Remember those days when the first thing you used to think after waking up in the morning is about school.
When Wearing the school uniform was a part of your life.
Our school memories fill us with a euphoria feeling. Those were wonderful days.
Today we have come to an age where children wake up in the morning and open their computers to learn.
The purpose of visiting the school and opening computers is the same, it is to learn but the mediums have changed.
I am not saying schools are dead today but you can not deny the fact that today’s children rely equally on their computers for education as they are on schools.
Just in India, the worth of the online education market is USD 1.96 billion with more than 10 million users. Of course, due to this pandemic, the numbers have further increased.
Another data shows, more than 80% of students use online platforms to learn science followed by arts and commerce.
Today we all are familiar with online education. All you need is a computer (even a mobile would be ok) and a good internet connection to get started.
Education was really expensive 20 years back. Not everyone could afford education in those days. And higher education was out of reach for a lot of people.
With the rise of the internet and technology, education has become accessible to everyone.
People nowadays don’t rely on schools or colleges for a good education.
But with all these, some burning questions are rising.
Is online education the future for quality education?
Will it replace schools and colleges?
Can we learn everything on the online platforms?
Before answering these, we need to know more about online education in a little detail manner.
There are several types of online platforms available that can be categorized as
1. Online Courses
Individual skills or subjects can be learned just by sitting at your home. Most often you need to pay but occasionally there are some free courses also available.
Khan academy or even YouTube is a nice platform to learn some skills free of cost.
Coursera, edx, Udacity, Lynda, Skillshare, etc are famous for their huge collection of courses. One needs to pay to enroll in their programs.
2. Hybrid Courses
Many universities/colleges nowadays offer students to pursue a combination of online and on-campus education. Students get exposure to both online and offline education.
MOOC stands for ‘Massive open online courses’. In these courses, a large number of learners take part from all over the world. Participants list could be as high as 10000.
I have completed three MOOCs this year and I had an amazing experience.
Right now there are many free MOOCs are available. You can check out them.
4. 100% Online education
You can earn an entire degree without visiting any college or university campus.
Having said that, there are both advantages as well as disadvantages of online education.
Let’s see some of the advantages that online education offer-
You can learn at your own pace. There will be a deadline to submit assignments but no strict schedule.
Whether you are a slow or fast learner, online education will not make you feel superior or inferior complexity.
2. Reduces Cost
Compared to traditional classroom education, online education is more affordable.
There is no cost for commuting. Costs related to transportation, maintenance don’t affect online education.
3. Access to Quality Expert
Most teachers in college or universities are not world-class. Many of them lack quality teaching skills.
Especially, think about colleges in rural places. With online education, one gets to learn from quality teachers and experts.
4. More Networking Opportunities
When you join a good online education program, you will become part of a diverse community that gives you opportunities to network with people beyond your state, country, or continent.
5. Learn More in Less Time
With traditional education, you have to spend a certain amount of time to complete a degree or to learn a skill.
For example, a bachelor’s degree will take 3–4 years in a college. But with online education, the time you need is up to you in most cases.
If you can learn fast, then you might complete a course in a quick time and this gives you the opportunity to learn more skills without spending an ample amount of time.
6. Learn Diverse Subjects
Traditional education system categorize you and force you to choose a specialized subject.
As you move from school to college to university, your specialization will become narrower. But with online education, you can learn whatever interests you.
You can learn mathematics and history together. This is hardly possible in college or universities. Also, subjects like creativity, writing, personal finance are not available to learn in the traditional system. But you can learn them through online education.
7. Increased Instructor-Student Time
In a big country like India, the number of students in a classroom sometimes exceed 100.
In such a scenario, it becomes difficult for the teacher to answer questions of every student. Thus curiosity of a student dies due to lack of guidance.
In online education, students are encouraged to ask questions. They can post their questions in the community or ask the instructor directly. The chances of getting answers are very high.
On the other hand, some of the disadvantages are-
1. More Distraction
Learning through an online platform requires tremendous discipline and self-motivation.
There are many distractions in online education. With a computer and internet connection, one can easily get distracted by surfing the internet.
Going to schools and attending classes doesn’t require tremendous discipline because there are other people in front of our eyes who are doing the same thing.
But in online education, you are alone (physically). Only if you are self-driven, you can learn via online
2. Lack of Inspiration
The biggest limitation of online education is perhaps that the students won’t get inspired.
It is not good for young minds who look after an inspiration. In classrooms, many times a great teacher inspires a student, sometimes even our friend inspires us.
But in online education, this is just not possible as you are alone physically and can’t interact face to face.
3. More Robotic System
Through online education, a good student can become better or excellent.
But what about students who are not very bright at an early age?
We have seen students in schools who were not good at the beginning but eventually became better and excellent students with time.
Because one has to be self-driven and there is no one to inspire, a very young student might find it difficult to become a better or excellent student via online education.
4. It Can Affect Our Social Skills
Had you not gone to schools or colleges, you would have never been able to make great friends.
There is no doubt that if someone immerses himself in online education from an early age, he would miss many valuable social skills. Most importantly, one would miss friends who become part of our life.
5. It Creates a Sense of Isolation
In an online course, no one can hear you scream. Studying alone with only the computer as your companion can be terrifying for some students. It can create a sense of loneliness and affect the mental health of students.
So, will online education replace the traditional educational system?
Honestly, I don’t think so.
In fact, online education will enhance our learning experience and complement offline education.
Because students are not completely dependent on school or colleges, institutes will try harder to make their curriculum and learning environment better.
Educational institutes are also organizations that require money to run. If they do not perform well, students always have the option to learn from an online source.
As online education will become better, institutes will have to make themselves better to survive.
Think of school, college, universities as physical books, and online education as kindle.
Today. both physical books and kindle are surviving together. Kindle has made the reading experience smoother. We can access thousands of books just by a few clicks.
But kindle can’t replace physical books. The smell of a book, the feeling of holding a physical book, turning its pages have a different feeling that kindle can’t provide.
That’s what will happen or already happening with offline and online education.
Learning with other students and from an excellent teacher face to face has no replacement.
In fact, scientific studies have shown that there are more involvement and depth in blackboard teaching. Especially, for young students blackboard teaching is best.
Tomorrow we might develop some intelligent robots to teach students. Robots that will have all the answers to all of your questions.
But those robots will not be able to inspire students. And that’s why they can never replace your favorite teachers.
As a Japanese proverb says-
“Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.”
Undoubtedly, online education will rise exponentially in the coming days. Not taking advantage of the online platforms for education will be stupidity.
But depending completely on those platforms can be catastrophic.
I am sure, you don’t want to become an intelligent robot but an intelligent human. You can’t become an insightful human just by sitting at your home with a computer and learning various skills.
You have to be among people to learn certain skills. A classroom does not just teach us technical skills but also soft skills.
For a young mind, face to face learning extremely important.
They can take help from online sources to learn better but should not depend completely on online sources for learning.
Ultimately, both online and offline education has advantages and limitations.
As intelligent species, we must make most out of both systems.
Rather than thinking about which is better or worse, we must focus to complement our learning experience using both online and traditional education platforms.
Sidney Hook, an American Philosopher said it best-
” Everyone who remembers his own education remembers teachers, not methods, and techniques. The teacher is the heart of the educational system.”
What is your opinion about online education?
Let me know in the comment section.
Have a productive week. Until next time.