Your classroom is on your lap, and learning, at the tip of your fingers. You can open it in the comfort of your home, your local coffee shop, or in the library, at your personal convenience. All you need is the internet to connect you to the global chaotic web of information. Online learning has garnered a lot of popularity in the past few years. This medium of learning has proven to be a key factor in knowledge transfer and organization of the evolving education system. Several universities offer distance education and online classes. In my two year post-secondary university career, I have taken two online French language courses, one during the summer, and the other, during my work-term. As a participant of this substantial experiment, I am able to decipher the pros and cons of this method. Students turn to the internet to clarify, comprehend, and further their knowledge of subjects studied in class. Some universities post a few of their lectures on their official YouTube pages, which can be highly valuable resources for students. Khan Academy is a well-known name in the field of free online education and quite popular amongst university students. It is a not-for-profit organization, where the instructors provide directional videos relevant to generic syllabus of a wide variety of courses, ranging from mathematics, humanities, and chemistry to finance and economics.
A higher education company, Coursera, is intricately piecing together a similar innovative experiment. By collaborating with leading American universities, the organization is working towards making a cross-section of their education services available to a wider audience. Michigan, Princeton, Stanford, and University of Pennsylvania, were the original partners, however, the organization is expanding to include a wider partnerships base, which will comprise of Duke University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, Rice University, University of California, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, University of Washington, and the University of Virginia. From Fall 2012, they will offer more than hundred online technical-based as well as humanities courses. Stanford previously delivered some free online courses which attracted enrollment from one hundred and ninety countries.
Online learning is easily accessible, convenient, and supports individual as well as a collaborative digital environment. But, discipline, time management, and conviction for learning are essential from the student’s perspective. As a flexible learning location, it is able to reach people even in impoverished parts of the world, which expands opportunities for a large part of the global population. It serves as an ideal example of the word, “globalization.” The structure, delivery, and correspondence of these courses is aimed to be designed in a fashion that facilities success. Online cheating, personal identities, university specific rules, grading schemes, are few of the obstructions that such a venture is expected to face. While the courses will be offered for free, most universities will only offer a “statement of accomplishment” couple with a final grade. The student will not receive a formal credit from the institution. However, a small group of universities are looking offer credits in exchange of fees. Hence, the logistics and design of this online learning system is crucial to its functioning, as well as the success of its users.
Drawing from personal experience, I think that the learning outlet you choose should be in line with your individual learning style. I found that online education necessitates individual discipline and desire to learn. However, the virtual world can help people in different corners of the world enhance their knowledge, advance their careers and subsequently, contribute to their communities. From serving as an additional supplemental tool, this mode might be becoming an institution in itself as advancements occur in the realms of video technology, social networking, and software development.