Supporting Community Learning with Digital Technologies and Knowledge for Societal Development: Open and Distance Learning to Educate Rural Farmers by Enhanced Blended Learning Management System through School ICT Laboratory in Malaysia
Purpose – This research was attempted to examine the feasibility of open and distance learning on educating rural farmers in improving the quality of their knowledge and upgrading their livelihood through the school ICT Laboratory in the village vicinity. The rural farmers could use the internet facilities and connectivity of the school ICT laboratory not only to communicate but also to acquire knowledge on agriculture. The culture of using technologies in acquiring first hand agro knowledge and the fluctuating produces prices have great influence in determining the quality of their livelihood. // Design/ methodology/ approach – Five dimensions of enhancing open and distance learning to educate and improve livelihood of Malaysian farmers through the secondary school ICT laboratory (demographic, technology availability, rural farmers; learning culture and leadership of village chieftains) were examined to determine the success of supporting community learning in the digital age: enhancing open and distance learning to educate and improve livelihood of Malaysian farmers. // Finding - In general, there are significant differences among factors stated above which will upgrade the rural farmers’ livelihood and be competitive with their peers from other sectors. The usage of the school ICT laboratory by enhancing open and distance learning could be beneficial to the rural farmers by upgrading their knowledge on seeding, cloning, fertilization, proper usage of agro chemical and bio technology etc in fostering the production quality agriculture produces’ as well as avoiding the agro middleman’s preying when there is fluctuation of the agro produces price. In addition, the rural farmers could use the ICT facility to foster friendship, exchange of ideas and networking among their peers in the region. // Research limitations/ implications – This study represents an addition to the extant literature on supporting community learning in the digital age: enhancing open and distance learning to educate and improve livelihood of Malaysian rural farmers through the school ICT laboratory. // Practical implications – Enhancing digital technology in improving farmers’ livelihood is of paramount important in the upgrading of not only the farmers livelihood but national economy. It is utmost important for the maximization in the utilization of digital technologies provided by the government initiative to improve its efficiency and integrity on quality assure of ODL in producing quality human capital. // Originality/ value – This study provides further groundwork for the quality utilization of open and distance learning platform in educating rural farmers.