What it is: Education is changing, and that creates new opportunities for everyone but the people currently benefiting from the current system.
There’s a reason why people don’t want to change and the reason usually revolves around the fact that they’re the ones benefiting from the current situation. In the early days, mainframe and minicomputer computer users dismissed PCs as “toys” that couldn’t do serious work. While they were right that PCs didn’t have the power of mainframe or minicomputers (at the time), their point of view also focused on keeping the mainframe and minicomputer market alive because they were the ones benefiting from the business.
It’s easy to dismiss something new if you’re the one benefiting from the past and threatened to lose your profits to the future.
This is why so many IT departments insist on relying on Microsoft products, not because Microsoft is always the best solution, but because sticking with Microsoft makes the IT department’s job easier so they can get paid handsomely for doing less challenging work.
As more people rely on Linux, Macintosh computers, and their own smartphones and tablets, IT departments have had to scramble to make so many different devices work together. This is obviously much harder than simply forcing everyone to use a Windows PC, which means IT departments now have to work to earn their money rather than simply dictating terms to everyone else to make the IT department’s life easier, regardless of what might be best for other people in a company.
In the world of education, textbook publishers are the current beneficiaries by charging high prices for textbooks that become obsolete within a short period of time so school districts have to buy new ones all over again. Yet education is going through a wholesale change.
In the past, education meant showing up to a class at a fixed time of day and listening to a teacher lecture while students took notes. This system worked in favor of schools because they could charge high tuition because students had few options. Nowadays, education is going through a massive change and the system no longer works.
Instead of forcing students to attend a physical location at a fixed time, online education gives students the ability to learn at their own pace, at their own time, accessing teaching resources from all over the Internet. It’s possible to learn any subject through teachers who may be located in other parts of the world. Education is no longer limited to people wealthy enough to attend certain schools or people who live in proximity to that school. Now it’s possible for someone in Africa, Brazil, Asia, or the United States to get the same education on their own time.
Online learning is the future. One huge advantage of online learning is that it immediately forces students to motivate themselves. A high percentage of students fail to complete online courses compared to a much lower percentage of students who complete courses that require attendance in a classroom. Online learning requires more motivation, which means students must take control and responsibility for their own education.
In the past, schools dictated a fixed curriculum that all students had to follow in lock-step. Today, online learning lets students choose the courses they wish to take in whatever order they wish to take. This spells freedom for students.
Yesterday’s students had to sit in classrooms to learn anything. Today’s students can learn anywhere, any time, using textbooks, smartphones, computers, and the Internet. Online learning promises students greater control over their learning, but at the price of greater responsibility as well. Given the choice, most students will probably opt for greater choice and freedom over less choices and more rigid schedules.
It’s a great time to learn anything and it’s only going to get better in the future. The only people who won’t like the future of education will be the ones who currently make a lot of money doing relatively little from today’s educational system.