The world of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, is shaking up academia in the US. But many are actively embracing it in regions like Latin America.
A few superstar professors pull in upward of 10,000 students around the globe into free, or nearly free, courses. But others perceive the courses as a dangerous fad that will shrink faculties, turn existing professors into glorified teaching assistants and replace meaningful classroom discussion with message boards and student-led forums.
Lost in the debate about online learning, however, is its impact in far-flung regions of the globe, places like the electrical engineering department at the University of El Salvador and the modest walk-up apartment of the Palacios family, above the medical clinic of Dr. Roberto Palacios Navarro, Roosemberth’s father.
“At school, he hardly studies. He just shows up and takes the exams,” Dr. Palacios said of his son. But it isn’t for lack of ambition. “He wants to learn,” he said.
Added the son: “I don’t like simple things.”
That is evident within minutes of arriving at the open-air, tile-floor home, where the teenager shows off a workbench where he solders circuit boards and flips through the pages of his own proposal to build an unmanned helicopter.