The Internet has had a massive effect on all aspects of human life and interactions since its inception. The world has shrunk considerably and the speed of life has increased dramatically. But one specific aspect that the internet has had an enormous effect on is education. It’s changing education for good and for the good of all.
The internet is bringing education to almost all corners of the planet and leveling the playing field. With the same content available regardless of geographic location, there is less of a gap in education across the world. While countries that lack technological infrastructure and political stability are still at a disadvantage, the gap is closing nonetheless. Language barriers also present a problem for presenting content, but it only takes one teacher who understands English to translate the content for a classroom full of students. This means that a single laptop and a satellite internet connection can provide a classroom, school, or village with access to any content they wish.
Once the technological infrastructure is in place, the internet means lowered education costs across the board. Online education means that one teacher can instruct countless students. Knowledge can be transferred over time and space endlessly. In developed countries, a building is no longer required for education. Students can learn from home from their own computers. This saves the costs associated with transportation for the student and costs associated with maintaining facilities for the school. This means no property to buy, no structure to build, no maintenance cost or staff, no utility costs, and so on. This also leads to a reduction of printed materials, which saves costs as well as reduces waste.
Not only can the internet provide education to more people at a lower cost, it can also offer better quality. Lecture based teaching is the least effective way that people learn new concepts. Interactive learning is more effective for retention that lectures. The internet provides opportunities for interaction and media rich content. Training software can provide interactive sessions that provide instant feedback to the learner so they can assess progress and aptitude. Online learning can also provide instruction that is more convenient to the learner, thus making them more receptive to it. When the learner can choose the time and place of instruction, he or she is more likely to be more comfortable and open to the content to be learned.
With all these changes happening so fast, it is hard to say where the internet will take education next. What is likely is that the changes listed above will continue to spread and become more dramatic. One day school education and on the job training may be completely unrecognizable from where they are today. So as the internet continues to make education more available, cheaper, and better, the best we can do is try and keep up and make sure we are taking the best advantage of these advancements as they occur.