When we talk about education in the present day two great revolutions are evoked: one provided by the invention of the printer – in the fifteenth century by Gutenberg; Another brought about by the popularization of the internet. The ability to print and replicate documents triggered a type of learning. Now the idea of having a massive amount of content available on a mobile device brings up a new way of learning: with online education.
Today, it is possible to attend college classes, take professional courses, learn to play the guitar, photograph, exercise, cook, sew, … basically everything, via the internet. Teaching is becoming a la carte , the interactions between learners and masters take place in discussion forums and email exchanges, Google Hangouts is a video conferencing tool that can very well function as a classroom. And so it goes.
But what is behind this educational revolution? Is online learning really the education of the future?
The internet has not only democratized education, it is fundamentally changing the way we learn. For many scholars, online and distance learning is a natural evolution of this second educational technology revolution: now we are always connected, with networks of contacts that go beyond physical barriers and are in many digital devices. So learning when and where you want (or can) became normal. It is a consequence of this modernization of content.
So millions of people went on to pursue higher education without having to actually “go” to college.
Universities have begun to respond to this new trend. And then came the MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) platforms. They are usually non-profit institutions created by large universities to disseminate courses and courses open over the internet. One of them is edX , created in 2012 by Harvard and MIT universities – but today it has about 50 educational institutions. EdX president Anant Agarwal told In Forbes that the company’s goal is “to democratize and reimagine education so that anyone, regardless of social status or income, has access to it.”
According to Agarwal, edX has three goals: to increase access to quality education, to improve teaching and learning on campus and to conduct research on how students learn. As important as creating quality courses that match the demand for student content around the world, the educator is building innovative online tools that can improve learning outcomes.
ONLINE EDUCATION JOB MARKET
Considering that millennials and members of Generation Z (or Connected Generation) – who are native digital users – will dominate working environments very soon (in about 5 or 6 years) , it is inevitable to think about how changes in education will affect those places.
These professionals will not be satisfied with a legal salary, a scale of growth within the company and a dream of retirement. Millennials , for example, are more interested in making a difference in the world. They are people who really care about their careers and get involved in what they do.
In this perspective, companies will have to strive to make their teaching approaches more accessible and flexible; To meet the demands of this new workforce, made up of smart and interested professionals. As discussed in an article in the SkilledUp network, which specializes in business-oriented education, many of these educational efforts are expected to focus on mobile devices over the next decade.
WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER ONLINE COURSES?
Although much has been discussed about the future of education in academic and corporate settings, there are other categories of learning that are spreading through the internet. Three of them – entrepreneurship, quality of life and hobbies – are very important and bring to the surface an entirely distinct and unexplored market, but that grows exponentially every day.
Digital entrepreneurship, creative and collaborative economics, digital marketing and coaching are some examples of business approaches that have been solidifying and becoming reality for many people thanks to online courses. Every day hundreds of individuals learn to create small, scalable businesses with other entrepreneurs and mentors who teach on the network.
At the same time, personal trainers , dietitians, yogis, and other health, fitness , food, and quality of life professionals teach ordinary people how to exercise at home, cook healthy meals without overspending, meditate, and take care of their health. That’s because a demand came from people interested in learning to live better without having to spend their days in gyms, aesthetic clinics and doctors’ offices.
There are still people who want to learn something for fun, for hobby . Playing guitar, drawing, photographing, speaking English, making crafts, etc. And they have professionals who want to add skills to the skillset and stand out in the market: photographers who understand design, designers who understand photography, for example. The possibilities are numerous and today all this knowledge can be transmitted over the internet.
PROS AND CONS OF ONLINE EDUCATION
From the perspective of learning, considering the areas discussed above, it is possible to list some positive points about online education:
- The interactivity between students and teachers, even though most of the courses are recorded classes, the best platforms for dissemination and sale of online courses allow students to talk to each other and have access to the course instructor who, for interacting online , Can help a much larger number of people than in a face-to-face course;
- the availability , because the student has access to content and teacher for much longer than a class 50 minutes;
- The price , since an online course has a much lower cost than a face-to-face course;
- variety and practicality , as the student can choose the subjects to be studied based on their interests and needs as well as consume content without moving; and
- The flexibility of being able to study in the way that suits you best, at your own pace.
On the other hand, some educators do not believe much in the sharing of knowledge on the internet and are positioned in a manner contrary. One of the main arguments – defended by educators Jason Lane and Kevin Kinser in 2013 – is that “thousands of students around the world having the same course with the same content with the same instructor […] is the beginning of McDonaldization of education Superior “.
In addition, they refer to the absence of interpersonal relationships and reduction of cultural exchanges that exist in face-to-face courses.
There are two sides in the same coin. Education involves both the ability to learn alone and the need to establish contact with others, discuss opinions, debate points of view. It is true that the internet does not replace physical contact. But it is also true that it brings together worlds that otherwise might never know of each other’s existence.
If we put it on a scale, the strengths of online education are greater in number and impact. The internet democratizes education, and in the meantime scholars and companies are looking for ways to make courses and student experience more effective.
We have not yet reached the ideal stage, but it is safe to say that online education is here to stay.
And you, what do you think about it? In your opinion, is the internet the future of education?