Get out from that bench and turn on your computer: The future of education is online
We all know that academic education and degrees have a high value and will continue to do so for many years to come. Still, I am not the only one who firmly believes that online certificates will overtake them in popularity and added value very soon.
In the last years, the concept of traditional education has shifted dramatically, especially now, due to the pandemic.
Markets&Markets forecasts the global digital education market size to grow from USD 8.4 billion in 2020 to USD 33.2 billion by 2025, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 31.4% during the forecast period.
With the rise of the Internet and new technologies, being physically present in the classroom is no longer the only learning option. Today, as long as you have access to a computer, you can get a good education whenever and wherever you want. The online education revolution is now ushering in a new era.
The pandemic has arrived to alter learning paradigms permanently. Many people have claimed that COVID-19 has hastened the transformation of learning.
However, the pandemic forced educational institutions to change their business models. Many were forced to develop digital strategies to keep their students and income.
It does not imply that academic programs will disappear, but there will be an increase in demand for online certificate programs from both students and the labor market.
Today, you can use the Internet to attend college classes, take professional courses, learn to play the guitar, photograph, exercise, cook, and sew, to name a few things.
Interactions between learners and teachers take place in discussion forums and email exchanges, and Google Hangouts is a video conferencing tool that can also function as a classroom. And so forth.
The Internet has democratized education and fundamentally altered how we learn, and online and remote learning is a natural evolution of this technological revolution.
We are now always connected, with networks of contacts beyond physical barriers, and are available on various digital devices. As a result, learning to learn when and where you want (or can) has become the norm. It is the result of this digital transformation.
Universities have begun to react to this new trend. Then there were the platforms for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). They are typically non-profit organizations established by large universities to disseminate disciplines and courses made available via the Internet.
An excellent example is edX , founded in 2012 by Harvard and MIT universities but has grown to include over 50 educational institutions.
“The goal of Edx is to democratize and reimagine education so that anyone, anywhere, regardless of social status or income, has access to it” — EdX President Anant Agarwal.
What about the disadvantages?
As you can notice, I am a great supporter of online learning, but many educators are still skeptical of knowledge sharing on the Internet and advocate for the opposite.
One of the main arguments, advanced some years ago by educators Jason Lane and Kevin Kinser, for example, is that “thousands of students worldwide taking the same course, with the same content, with the same instructor […] is the beginning of McDonaldization of higher education.”
I believe they referred to the lack of interpersonal relationships and cultural exchanges that exist in face-to-face courses.
Today, online education with very mature technology and user-friendly interfaces, multimodality, and greater personalization for sure made giant leaps during the last years.
If you are still not convinced, let’s have a look in detail at some indicators on how to keep up with your education by leveraging online education.
Main factors influencing the adoption of online education
I recently read an interesting article called “The Future of Education: Online Certificates or Academic Degrees?” by Naser Tamimi on Medium, and I could not agree more when he made the bold statement that “online certificates will replace them in terms of popularity and getting more respect.”
I finished my formal education in the early 2000s, so you can imagine how much technology and the job market have changed in the last 20 years.
The static and traditional education that I received during those years provided me with a solid foundation and helped me get a foothold in the job market.
In recent years, I have focused on developing my career through online education, with several training courses, specializations, and dozens of online certificates.
As a result, I understand and agree with Naser when he states that there are three main reasons to believe that online education will replace traditional education in the coming years.
Compared to traditional academic programs, digital transformation, the democratization of education, and the trending decentralized education system favor online certificate programs.
I will explain it using some of Naser’s arguments, with which I agree, and I will add two more that I think are very relevant:
The new world is becoming more digital than ever before. The digital transformation in various industries and human lifestyles has one significant consequence: an increase in the change rate.
It is pretty simpler and less expensive to make changes in the digital world and then observe or model the results.
We are living in a very connected world where technology evolves at a rapid pace. The demand for expertise changes regularly, and it is critical for anyone looking for work to specialize in a short time. Education in this context must be brief, continuous, focused, and digital.
We all know that formal education is expensive, which has historically been a source of income inequality.
Compared to academic degrees, online certificates are less expensive, more accessible, and take less time to complete. A more focused education, such as an online certificate program, can help young people enter the labor market earlier and less financial burden, reducing income and wealth inequality.
Online education allows you to study from any location on the planet. This means that there is no need to travel from one location to another or adhere to a strict schedule. Furthermore, you save not only time but also money that can be spent on other priorities.
Online education allows both the teacher and the student to set their own learning pace and the added flexibility of creating a timetable that works for everyone. As a result, using an online educational platform allows for a better balance of work and studies; thus, no sacrifices are required. Online learning teaches essential time management skills, making it easier to balance work and study.
There are infinite skills and subjects to teach and learn in a vast and wide space like the Internet. A growing number of programs at different levels and disciplines are available online. There are options for every type of student, from musical composition to quantum physics., many of them offering official certificates or even diplomas without ever having to set foot on a university campus.
Following the diversification, we have decentralization. Consider a decentralized education system where you can learn programming from Google, math from Harvard, computer hardware from MIT, and receive certificates from each.
The world is moving toward decentralized systems, and it is expected that the educational system will follow suit and become a decentralized system. It means that students do not have to be graduates of a specific college or university to learn about various best educators’ topics.
I already mentioned how online education flexibility could help you set your own study pace due to its capacity to adapt to each student’s unique needs and skill level.
Online classes are typically smaller in size than traditional classes. Some online learning platforms even offer one-to-one lessons, which allows for more interaction and feedback between you and your tutor in almost all cases.
Tutors can often incorporate other formats, such as forums or discussions, to improve their lessons. There is often access to a wide range of materials, such as videos, photos, and eBooks. Additional content is accessible at any time and from any location, resulting in a more dynamic and personalized education.
The change has arrived and is here to stay. Just like me, millions of people are grateful for having the technology that allows us to keep learning and improving ourselves in such innovative ways, in this movement that began without a return.
Online learning is no longer a trend of the future. The remote learning system is already present in several educational environments.
The movement will take up an increasing amount of space in current learning models, and several educational systems are already following these trends.
To improve efficiency, productivity, and integration, it will be necessary to broaden the scope of teaching concepts. (maybe I will write about it in another article)
One more thing…
If you want to learn more about how you can use online resources to boost your career and knowledge, these articles can be interesting for you:
- How I’m learning the Top IT Skills for 2021 on Medium
- The Best MIT Online Resources for You to Learn AI and Machine Learning for Free
- More than 60 free courses to learn AI, ML, and Data Science today
- The most impressive Youtube Channels for you to Learn AI, Machine Learning, and Data Science.
- These are some of the best Youtube channels where you can learn PowerBI and Data Analytics for free.
- Digital Education Market — Global Forecast to 2025 by Markets & Markets
- The Future of Education: Online Certificates or Academic Degrees? by Naser Tamini
- EdX — Free Online Courses by Harvard, MIT, & more
- MOOC's and the McDonaldization of Global Higher Education