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International Cooperation for e-learning

-Lessons from the APEC Learning Community Builders-

YoungHwan Kim, Ph.D.

President of IACE

Professor of Busan National University

I. Introduction

Human beings have cherished a different kind of hope with keeping the pace with the times. The people who had longed for the hope of heaven in the Middle Age were interested in the hope of Utopia brought by the development of technology and society in the 19th century. In the 21st century, the informatization is in the limelight instead of the hope of success after the mid-20th century (Boulding, 1987). Following the recent development, the key factors of the informatization are ‘e-Learning’ and ‘Learning Community.’ The e-Learning enable any body to study any substance and the Learning Community is a cyber space for many people to learn and work together autonomously for common interests. It can be called as new hope of the human beings.

In particular, if there are divides of language, religion, economy and educational system within the regions like the APEC, the making the best use of e-Learning will be helpful for the narrowing those kinds of divides and the Learning Community can be a bridge for sharing many data and human network.

Nevertheless, it does not always guarantee the shining future of the whole of Learning Communities and e-learning. Because the success of learning community requires each member’s affirmative and voluntary participation depending on his or her own interest. Online learning communities with members’ spontaneous support are successful while those under government control are not. In this context, the ALCoB (APEC Learning Community Builders for APEC Learning Community for Shared Prosperity) has received much attention (Kim, Lee, & Choi, 2006).

In accordance with this background, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development of Korea and the Institute of APEC Collaborative Education (IACE) have been seeking an education model for narrowing the digital divide and the APEC and made efforts for enhancing digital opportunities continuously through implementing the APEC Learning Community Builders (ALCoB). Particularly, the success of the ALCoB is worthy of attention. As the ways of the efforts, Korean MOE & HRD and the IACE have implemented relevant projects: the APEC Learning Community for Shared Prosperity (ALCom) started from 2003, the APEC Future Education Project from 2004, and the APEC e-Learning Training program from 2005. It leads those projects in the ALCom. The core of the ALCom is the ALCoB consisting of teachers (ALCoB Teacher), learners (ALCoB Learner), and the supporters of education administrators, professors, researchers, parents, and other (ALCoB Supporters).

The spirit of the ALCoB is summarized as following: Caring for each other, Sharing know how, and Making friends in APEC. Based on the three principles, ALCoB have conducted the following activities: dispatching ALCoB Internet Volunteers during last 6 years for six economies, building and participating ALCoB on-line community (, working together with ALCoB’s own projects, visiting each other and interchanging though on/offline activities between community members.

This thesis aims at examining the outcomes and the ingredients of the success of the ALCom which has been developed for several years stably and continuously and then searching for development plan in the future. Based on the outcomes, it is expected to develop the composition and promotion plan of e-Learning and Learning Community appropriate for the APEC more than before.


II. Progress and Recent Achievement of the Three Projects

This chapter deals with the focus of the progress and recent achievements of three projects above mentioned.

1. APEC Learning Community for Shared Prosperity (ALCom) project

APEC Learning Community for Shared Prosperity (ALCom) was recognized at the 25th APEC Human Resources Development Working Group (HRD WG) meeting in 2003. ALCom aims at narrowing the digital divide through implementing international cooperative activities. In the long term, objectives of this project are 1) establishing groups of “APEC Learning Community Builders (ALCoB)” so that they can contribute to solve a problem of digital divide; 2) enhancing knowledge cooperation; and 3) eventually constructing and operating a community for shared prosperity within APEC through on-line and off-line activities.

ALCoB is the core part of the project and consisting of teachers, learners, and supporters-education administrators, scholars, experts, businessmen, etc. They are equipped with linguistic ability like English, specialized in using ICT and have concerns about educational & cultural exchanges with other member economies’ ALCoB.  

Through the projects of ALCom, ALCoB have contributed to improving educational quality in their own member economies and bridging new trend to make member economies to be interested in using ICT and international cooperation at the level of teachers and learners.  In accordance with these efforts, ALCoB supporters have tried to materialize the outcomes of ALCoB activities in the APEC region.

ALCoB are one of representative human networks in the APEC region and take active part in this project, ALCom as implementing on/offline collaborative activities. Improving the process of registration, a new member is able to apply for the ALCoB at any time and on/offline. As of end of September 2006, over 1,400 members are joining in this project as ALCoB and the number of members has been increased by around 87% from 534 ALCoB from 15 member economies . ALCoB are consisting of teachers, learners, and supporters composed of education administrators, scholars, businessmen, experts, and so on.

Figure 1. Course of Increasing Number of ALCoB (2003~2005)

Starting from 2005, ALCoB teachers and learners laying stress on linguistic ability like English, using ICT, and experience and concerns on international cooperation have participated in the projects of ALCom autonomously and creatively. In particular, the 3rd International ALCoB Conference was planned and managed by ALCoB teachers.

The business sector of ALCoB supporters, Korean ALCoB Entrepreneur Committee (ALCoB-EC) has got a stride into international collaboration through providing recent software and hardware for teaching and learning and relevant application, so ALCoB teachers and learners were able to go through cooperative activities using ICT and shared the outcomes of their ALCoB activities with their member economies’ teachers, learners, administrators, and others.

ALCom has implemented through on/offline ALCoB activities and relevant academic and training projects as following:

- Selecting and managing the Human Network, ALCoB members including setting up the ALCoB Entrepreneur Committee (ALCoB-EC)

- Operating the Online Community: (

- Convening the Offline Conference: International ALCoB Conference and ALCoB Workshop

- Supporting team-based collaborative activities: ALCoB Cooperative Project

- Promoting volunteering program:  ALCoB Internet Volunteers (AIV)

- Publishing the International Journal: Asia-Pacific Cybereducation Journal (APCJ)

- Improving ALCoB capacities: ALCoB Online Training Course

In 2006, for fostering autonomous and creative activities, the APEC Future Education Consortium intends to support ALCoB activities based on the criteria like self-activeness, fertile mind, and volunteer activities. In particular, the Consortium simplifies the registration process as online and asks the participation of member economies' prominent teachers, learners, and supporters for all through the year.

2. APEC Future Education (AFE) Consortium project

APEC Future Education (AFE) Consortium aims at searching for the vision of future education through implementing the projects, the APEC ICT Model School Network, the APEC Future Education Forum, and the APEC Future Education Forum Report.

Following the suggestion of APEC, AFE set up the tripartite group of government, non-government/institute, and private/business sectors. With the support of those stakeholders, it examines theoretical and practical ways to crystallize ideal model of future education at the ICT Model Schools in the APEC region after deliberating those ideas at the APEC Future Education Forum altogether and shared the outcomes with member economies through publishing the white paper, APEC Future Education Forum Report.

APEC ICT Model School Network is a project to enable the APEC teachers and learners to take full benefits of accessing to innovative ICT teaching materials. In addition, APEC members can share school plans and resources for ICT implementation. They can also carry out on/off-line exchange programs for teachers, learners, school administrators, and government officials of APEC member economies. Relevant projects of the Network foster collaborations and exchange expert knowledge and information within APEC community to materialize the practical ways for ideal future education. The network becomes a channel to share the achievements of the AFE. Based on the achievements in 2005, it is planned to invite new model schools from member economies as well as implementing cooperative projects among existing schools like online contest. At present, total of 81 schools are registered as the APEC ICT Model Schools and go through their own activities.

Likewise, the APEC Future Education Forum is planned for APEC members to proceed collaborative activities from different levels of government, educational institutions, and industries. Member economies can openly discuss and research to search for ideal model of future education for realizing the APEC vision and shared prosperity.

The Forum enhances the exchange of ideas, best practices, and educational products to develop guidelines for the APEC ICT Model Schools and examine feasible ways for ideal future education in the APEC region. Most of all, member economies are able to deepen human capacity building through this forum. In addition, the achievements of the Forum are expected to bring an educational renovation in the APEC region.

In 2005, the 1st Forum was held in Busan with the presence of over 500 prominent scholars, experts, teachers, entrepreneurs and others from APEC member economies. In this year, 2006, the Consortium intends to convene the 2nd APEC Future Education Forum under the theme of "Harmonizing technology and human values for APEC future education."

3. APEC e-Learning Training Program

This project was recognized at the 27th APEC Human Resources Development Working Group Meeting in 2005, in Pattaya, Thailand with the welcome of member economies. As to this initiative, APEC Ministers welcomed and appreciated the efforts of Korea to contribute to improving education quality for APEC shared prosperity and appealed the expectation for favourable implementation of the training program through the Joint Statement of APEC Ministerial Meeting in 2005.

APEC e-Learning Program aims at narrowing the digital divide and enhancing the quality of education in the region, thus contributing to shared prosperity in the APEC region. In this respect, this project is focusing promoting the development of related human resources and fostering exchanges among member economies as following: 1) Building a customized e-Learning training program in the APEC region to share know-how and knowledge among APEC member economies to reduce the digital divide and promote prosperity of participating member economies, 2) Providing opportunities to share experience and information, and to exchange educators, educational administrators, and policy makers related to e-Learning among member economies, and 3) Disseminating information on the best e-Learning practices, policies, and research findings through on /offline publications, reports, and other media.

The main targeted beneficiaries of the APEC e-Learning Training Program are leading generations consisting of policy makers, education administrators, scholars, teachers, businessmen and others with the recommendation of their own member economies.

Through this project, the beneficiaries will be able to take training courses focusing on e-Learning trends, e-Learning policy, e-Learning skills with the research and development team composed of university faculty, researchers, businessmen, teachers, and trainees who complete the course.

APEC e-Learning Training Program will construct a network of experts, who participate in training, manage the human network and database and provide related information and support activities. The quality of e-Learning in the entire region will be improved through the linkage activities of this network of institutions laying stress on e-Learning and related industries.

APEC e-Learning Training Program is to be customized by the needs of member economies and trainees and implemented for giving satisfactory results. The program is divided into four fields: e-Learning Training, e-Learning Research and Development, e-Learning Cooperative Network, and Information Sharing and Exchanges. As to the implementation of the whole program, IACE will provide trainees on/offline workshops, field training, and seminars.

* Guidelines on the APEC e-Learning Training Program

A.      Qualification of Trainees

APEC e-Learning Training Program is for policy makers, education administrators, school inspectors, scholars, teachers with linguistic ability (English), businessmen, and researchers from member economies required the development of e-Learning. With the application form filled out, participating member economies are requested to recommend trainees.

B.      Procedure of Selection

Institute of APEC Collaborative Education (IACE) is to select the trainees in accordance with the results of inspecting submitted application form and online interview with nominees.

Participating member economies are able to recommend the candidates doubled and the IACE will confirm the final entry of trainees for every year. Annually, the IACE will go through the training program as two rounds with each 50 trainees. Each round is divided into two groups depending on the needs and traits of the trainees.

C.      Activities

Prior to joining in the program, selected trainees need to prepare their own plans for studying and follow-up of the training course, and then proceed the training program with the support of a tutor and coordinator. In particular, the trainees are requested to mobilize a small group consisting of 3~5 members under the same objectives.

After completing the course, the trainees are to present the final report on the program and attend a meeting for evaluating the course.

D.      Support for Trainees

For the success of completing the program, the IACE has established supporting systems for the trainees like ‘mentor system’ and ‘scholarship.’ We are to set up a faculty group for ‘Mentor System’, which will help the trainees to deliberate their projects, activities, and assignments with an advisor and a coordinator assigned while staying in the APEC e-Learning Training Center.  To instil the will to carry out favourable results from this program, we intend to create a scholarship for the trainees.

With the support of member economies, Korea successfully launched the APEC e-Learning Training Program with designating the APEC e-Learning Training Center and gets ready to invite around 200 trainees as maximum from member economies. The 1st Round of the Training program will be started from Oct. 31, to Nov. 9, 2006.

III. Future Direction for Learning Community and e-Learning

The proposal for sustained growth of the e-Learning and the Learning Committee can be carried out in consequence of implementing the activities of ALCoB for last 6 years as following:

First, two fundamental issues on education are “what to teach?” and “how to teach.” Nevertheless, the rapid development of the technology tends toward focusing “how to teach?” more than “what to teach?” regarding the educational matter. In particular, the motto of the e-Learning for teaching anywhere, anyplace, any person who wants, and any contents needed only deals with the issues, “how to teach?”. Of course, we can find many of e-Learning programs treat the issues like creativeness, abilities to solve a problem, communication skills, and other various things. In addition, many experts make strenuous efforts to teach more substances through e-Learning.

Unfortunately, most of thinking is only focusing on the “the human resources development for sustainable economic development in the existing economic paradigms” not to make a person being happy with the society. It means that we are infatuated the logic of the human resources development which is just a tool for realizing “happy life.” In this context, the e-Learning and the Learning Community are requested to return to the humanizing activities for original purpose of education.

School education should return to a more human-centered and value-centered education. In education curriculum, human resource development for national economic development is important, but schools should make and provide education on an alternative paradigm that can improve the endless consumption-centered lifestyle that lead to environmental degradation, destruction of human nature, and that deprive modern men of freedom, self-concentration, and independence.

One way is to strengthen ethical and moral education so that learners can escape from excessive desire for consumption and pursue higher quality of living. For example, research into the true character of human beings, which is overlooked by the Schooling for Tomorrow project under OECD, and an international curriculum that fully reflects the virtues of Eastern philosophy must be developed. To elaborate, the philosophy of loyalty and filial piety that still exist in Korea should actively be promoted to other countries. Another good example is the fact that people from countries such as India or Thailand where people have strong belief in life after death in their culture have less attachment to excessive consumption pattern of the present world. This is because the more complex and fast pace the society becomes, the more important become the virtues of moral and ethical decisions in designing one's life based on one's individual character.

School is an important and desirable concept that current framework needs to be maintained. However, it is difficult to accept schools the way it is.  Schools so far served as a mirror that reflected the social belief of citizens. Schools embody the god of Economic Utility, the god of Consumption, the god of Technology, and the god of Secession and it is difficult to accept schools that exert efforts for and force relationships with such gods (Postman, 1995:89). In other words, schools should provide education at a physical space where cooperation from students and accountability and consideration towards others are required. The sentences in the introduction of “All I really need to learn I learned in Kindergarten”(Fulghum) is worth our attention : Share everything; play fair; don't hit people; put things back where you found them; clean up when you work; wash your hands before you eat. Without schools, it is impossible to teach such virtues. However, schools should escape from the shadows of other evil spirits, and should return to a more human-centered and value-centered state.

Let us look at an example of a school that has put such theory into practice. Wellington School, a renowned boarding school in Britain, started offering classes on how to live a happy life from fall semester 2006 under the subject name "Happiness Lesson." Pupils aged 14-16 receive one lesson a week, and the class will be extended throughout the school. The classes offer skills on "how to manage relationships," "physical and mental health," "negative emotions" and "how to manage one's ambitions." Anthony Seldon, the principal at Wellington School said, "Celebrity, money, and possessions are too often the touchstones for teenagers, and yet teenagers are under great pressure and stress. Thus teaching them to experience happiness and a sense of safety is more important than any other academic education." (Young-Hee Lee, 2006). Not all the people who possess both wealth and power, who are at the top tier of the capitalist market, lead a happy life. We need to think once again about the truth in commonness that a happy person is the one who is satisfied with oneself and who possesses a positive attitude on what one does.

Second, the e-Learning is focusing on the teaching and learning more than the whole of education until now. As to the teaching and learning, it tends to lay stress on the effectiveness, efficiency, attractiveness not safety. Recently, we realize that we can not turn away our faces from the issue like “internet-holic” which was not regarded as having direct relations with the e-Learning. The internet induces

The internet induces the corruption of the pleasure like the addictions on internet, game, online casino, and others, so it seems that the e-Learning and Learning Community do not need to evade its responsibility. Moreover, the most of recent edutainment program has a factor of online game. Actually, there might be the limitation to try to solve the problem like “internet-holic” with the e-Learning and the online community and it is same as the health warning written on the cigarette packets or the TV campaign for watching wholesome TV programs. So, what is the alternative proposal? The answer is to consider all of e-Learning, non-e-Learning, and anti-e-Learning.

Although utilizing e-Learning and u-Learning via the Internet is needed, it should be connected with face-to-face activities or personal activities. This is because the ego that has expanded in a certain area in the cyber space desires to check itself through actual activities. In addition, psychologically, indirect experience in the cyber space is completed by having direct experience or reconciliation. Why else then would people go to the zoo or the safari to see animals such as elephants, zebras, and lions that they have already seen precisely through various multimedia, TV, movies, and games? The fact that activities on the cyber space is extended to face-to-face activities indicates that in the end, people are encouraged, inspired, and taken accountable for their actions by meeting face-to-face for the activities they engaged in the cyber space.`

Through cyber space activities that anticipate face-to-face meetings, we can experience true encounter. Face-to-face activities overcome many shortcomings of various forms of communications taking place in the cyber space, maximize merits, and are personal experience activities where people visit, touch, and feel others. We must structure future society so that personal experiences and personal conversations increase in line with the rise in cyber activities. And schools must serve their roles as institutions that set such direction.

It seems that e-Learning will be the most viable alternative for educational methodology in the future. However, e-Learning alone cannot constitute education. Thus, an educational methodology that encompasses anti- e-Learning and non- e-Learning must be constructed. Anti- e-Learning refers to the movement of magnifying the shortcomings of e-Learning, and objecting to its diffusion. We must listen to their voices. Not only because they are pinpointing the major negative side of e-Learning, but also more importantly, because there are not many people who listen to their assertions despite its importance.

Non-e-Learning refers to educational activities that are sufficiently possible without e-Learning. Often, those who advocate non-e-Learning were marginalized by those who advocate e-Learning. For example, the importance of experiments in science education emerged in the early 1990s. However, some teachers with computer expertise and school commissioners teamed up with scholars to assert that developing computer-based simulation experiment program can replace actual experiments. They insisted that such program, once set up, will enable students to conduct basic scientific experiments without the risk of handling dangerous chemicals (reagents) or complicated actual experiments where equipment need to be managed all the time. Their opinions were accepted, and a large portion of the budget originally allocated for experiments were appropriated to CAI development cost. Appropriation of budget was necessary as there has never been a time when budget was more than enough to be used in all educational projects. However, unfortunately, after a few years, they could not prove the efficacy of CAI program for simulations. Now it is time to invest in labs for experiments again. Such case is not limited to experiments for science education. Past experience tells us so that it is no wonder why blended learning is once again gaining attention recently.

Third, it is needed to set up new pattern of the discussion on the online or offline learning community. Until now, we have talked about how we can set up and implement good community without the deliberation on the goal like common purpose, excellent leadership, and voluntary group, etc. It means that we have dealt with a community as value-neutrality and this is irresponsible like that we regard the technology is also value-neutrality.

In this context, Norberg-Hodges recommend a type of community as following: 1) a community to enhance Gross National Happiness instead of Gross National Product, 2) a community to meet the needs and fundamental craving for human life, and 3) a community based on self-supporting economy and culture.

Rousseau pointed out the responsibility of education that it used to overvalue a luxury which is too much for basic life and underestimate a stuff which is indispensable in our daily life. Because natural valuation of the products is voluntarily and it is caused by the outcomes from social valuation which is determined by “education” (Scheuerl, 2001). In other words, the procedure of socialization through education effects on the human beings.

In addition, there is another problem that a luxury or an unobtainable thing which is not related with daily life is not made by individual efforts. So, people is getting subordinated themselves to society and economic system and also more tumbling for the paradigm of luxurious articles. For instance, recently, a fountain pen priced as 500 dollars and i-POD which is a hot item for teenagers are not produced by a person. So, the consumers are requested to pay for the products made by the outside world or foreign economic system, not domestic system as well as defraying the expenses spent on long-term circulation.

Therefore, people are educated and trained to get more money to buy luxurious articles more and more. The regional community is not only globalized but also dependent upon the globalization. This circumstance will have an effect on standardizing the differences of regional characteristics, culture, economy, and education.

But, this is the outcome not to harmonize the key attributes of the internet like individualization and cooperation. The internet is firstly designed to meet individual needs and also make people cooperate with each other. So, if we meet the problem that the internet or the e-learning causes the standardization issue, we can not use the internet appropriately.

Herewith, we need to implement the e-Learning and the Learning Community for promoting the understanding of the characteristics of each region and country and foster its two factors like individualization and cooperation. So, it is needed to draw up a plan for APEC members to respect their own culture and make regional economy correlated with international economy. In this respect, the e-Learning can help us to set up a model for these efforts with collecting the best cases. Additionally, we need to indicate how we have made a mistake on using the e-Learning in the concrete and educate the public on it. Most of all, this will be started with setting up the Learning Community for happy life.


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