Campus’ Outsourced Education Illuminates Global Learning

    This quarter, as hordes of students shuffle into giant
    lecture halls and slam their tablets over their laps in preparation for another
    lecture, students enrolled in Derek Lomas’ “Developing Technologies for
    Developing Economies” practicum will gather in the Cal-(IT)2 building’s visual
    arts space, settle in comfy chairs, learn about world issues and begin devising
    ways to solve problems in developing countries through innovative technology.
    Considering the class’ hands-on approach, it is surprising to learn that its
    creator, Derek Lomas, a Cal-(IT)2 graduate
    student, is teaching the Winter Quarter class from Mumbai, India.

    Lomas, who initially traveled to India in July 2007 to work for
    Qualcomm with two other UCSD interns, stayed to conduct research, but was also
    inspired to design a course relating to important international concerns.

    “This class was created in response to real world issues,”
    Lomas said. “It is not easy to come up with a class relevant to current
    events.”

    Lomas created the class in order to emphasize that
    technological change can also bring about economic and social change, and to
    raise undergraduate and graduate students’ interest in helping third world
    countries. While some students may have connections to the developing world
    through family or friends, many are largely detached and uninformed about the
    simple difficulties that third world countries face, such as finding clean
    water. To combat this, Lomas will take advantage of his firsthand experiences
    and resources in India,
    and, through modern technology, use observations and interviews with native
    Indians to expose the country’s way of life to students. Lomas does not see his
    in-class absence as a disadvantage. Rather, he plans to use his position in India to
    enhance the class material and give his students an in-depth understanding of
    the people they will make innovative solutions for.

    Teaching a class from a country halfway around the world is
    not as difficult or as complicated as it may seem. Thanks to the Internet and
    Apple technology, Lomas will be able to hold live video conferences with his
    class once a week. With his remote desktop, Lomas can also share files, photos
    and videos that students will view on a widescreen Mac. During the course,
    Lomas will alternate between holding live lectures from India, showing
    prerecorded videos of guest Indian speakers and facilitating class
    discussions.

    “Distance education doesn’t have to just make up for someone
    not being there,” Lomas said. “It can actually be a benefit because it can
    provide firsthand experiences.”

    In the experimental course, students will not only have the
    chance to watch interviews with Indians, but they will also be able to
    experience the daily lives of everyday natives such as truck drivers, vegetable
    pickers and shopkeepers. To facilitate this, Lomas’ interviewees will wear a
    special pair of sunglasses that work like a camcorder before taking part in a
    normal day’s activities. These videos will then be edited, compiled and shown
    to the students. By actually stepping into other people’s lives, Lomas hopes
    that his students will become more globally aware and conscious of the problems
    and poverty that developing countries face.

    “There is not a whole lot of knowledge about how other
    people live,” Lomas said. “Because of globalization, it is important that we
    can compare life here to life in undeveloped countries. Being aware involves
    more than joining a ‘Save Darfur’ group on Facebook or donating money to a
    cause.”

    Through their understanding of third world issues, students
    will be better able to design a technological solution to better meet the needs
    of developing economies. While the main criteria of this project require
    students to conduct research and evaluate how their invention will assist the
    lives of third world citizens, the product design and its marketability is
    limited only to the students’ imaginations and ambitions. Although it is
    unlikely that the students’ inventions will be mass marketed, a successful
    invention is nevertheless based on creativity.

    Although Lomas’ course is an example of a unique and
    different approach to education, distance-learning classes are actually commonplace
    in the state’s higher education system. For example, UCSD extension offers over
    2,000 Internet-based and hybrid classes, combinations of Internet and
    traditional courses. Although it may seem impractical to take a nontraditional
    course, these types of classes have helped undergraduates and non-degree
    seeking people achieve their educational goals. Henry DeVries, the UCSD
    extension director of communications, sees this as a growing and valuable
    resource.

    “As the cost of technology rapidly falls, you will see the
    continued rise of distance learning, especially for adult learners,” DeVries
    said. “This is a chance for students from across the nation and around the
    globe to have access to the top minds in the field.”

    While Internet-based classes are designed for people to
    learn whenever and wherever it is convenient for them, hybrid classes like
    Derek Lomas’ involve a unique integration of class meetings and online
    resources to create an enhanced learning environment.

    “I think that the professor is setting a great example in
    how the classroom can use technology,” said Sixth College
    senior Kristen Shimatsu, who plans to take the class. “I think that his
    dedication and good use of modern technology makes up for how he isn’t
    physically there. If anything, he is adapting to the students’ lives and the
    technology that surrounds us.”

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $210
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $210
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal