There was a time in the not too distant past where a quality education meant attending a traditional brick and mortar institution. The alternatives like home schooling, distance learning and correspondence education were often seen as inferior, albeit legitimate teaching methodologies. However, technology has changed the way we see the non-traditional approaches to education and learning.
The internet has revolutionized the way we interact with the world in a number of different ways. Information is now readily available at a click of a button, be it on a computer or mobile device. The ability to shuttle large amounts of data across vast distances means that traditional limitations faced by the in-home learning can now be overcome.
Overall technology has allowed education to be brought into the home and still have all the necessary components to impart knowledge to the student in a controlled manner. Even the social component does not have to be forgone due to distance and the lack of face-to-face contact in person.
Lectures can be delivered in video when and where it is desired. Classroom interaction can be matched through forums and discussions boards. Software can facilitate the step-by-step learning process. Assessments and even examinations can be done live online to ensure that the participant is not cheating.
While many of us may still frown upon the idea of online education when schools, colleges and universities are so readily available around us, we must look at the impact of online education in a global context. Technology has extended its reach to the most desolate parts of the planet, in countries where education is not accessible to the masses or limitations in finance and infrastructure makes it downright impossible for many to get an education.
Whether online education can outperform the traditional brick and mortar institutions with educators in class may be debatable. There is no way of saying for sure that one methodology is better than the other, especially in a time where the individual learner is acknowledged rather than the class of students as a whole.
However, there is no denying that new frontiers in education are constantly opening up with the aid of technology. Video lectures and webinars which were concepts of future innovation just two decades ago are now an everyday reality for millions across the globe. There is no saying how far online education will continue to thrive and what it will mean for prospective high school and college graduates in the future.
What can be said with some degree of certainty is that education is being revolutionized everyday by technology and being made accessible to the untapped masses. Even skeptics would be hard pressed to deny that in time online education in any form would have contributed in a positive manner to the human species as a whole.