MIT’s Learning International Network Consortium (LINC) — which began in response to a growing and unmet demand for distance learning — is an international community of individuals and organizations that share best practices in order to develop and strengthen distance-learning projects in their home countries.
At the time of LINC's creation in 2002, MIT’s now internationally popular OpenCourseWare had just launched its smaller, pilot version, and MIT and other major universities were not yet equipped to provide distance learning resources on a large scale.
Professor Richard Larson, LINC founder and director, explains that LINC's creation came out of the idea that education is an asset shared by the entire global community. Collaboration and innovation are required to ensure education is available to all, particularly in some developing countries where 50 percent of the population is under age 20.
“The reality in many developing countries is that the population burst is so large that it is not possible to accommodate the large quantities of students with only the standard student-to-teacher ratio,” Larson says. “We need to leverage the available technologies and resources to reach more students more effectively.”
And at LINC's upcoming fifth conference, on May 23-26, participants will continue to address the challenges and opportunities in education from a wide variety of perspectives. More than 100 papers — submitted from 40 different countries and with authors traveling from five continents and as far away as the Fiji Islands — cover diverse topics such as e-learning in Afghanistan, information and communication technologies for lifelong learning in Africa, and blended learning at the University of the South Pacific.
Plenary and parallel talks will focus on ways universities can provide distance education and e-learning resources to high-school students, thereby strengthening the universities’ potential pool of applicants, and also to alumni, promoting the lifelong learning essential in today’s fluid job market.