3 Ways the Internet Is Changing Education Right Now

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.

Democratizing Education

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.

Lowered Costs

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.

Improved Learning

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.

8 Comments

  1. vwdl

    February 21, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    one teacher can’t teach countless students-we have to mark and upgrade websites.

  2. NikPeachey

    February 23, 2012 at 7:24 am

    Whereas I believe all the above is possible, I certainly don’t think it has happened yet. I’m writing this from Pakistan where I’m working with groups of teachers helping them understand how to use technology in a pedagogically sound and effective way. This is of key importance to ensure that what technology has made possible actually becomes a reality. It certainly a long way from happening at the moment and real institutional and cultural changes need to take place within education because that’s where the real obstacles are.

    Best

    Nik Peachey | Learning Technology Consultant, Writer, Trainer

  3. JimBuckingham

    February 23, 2012 at 7:46 am

    To think that all it takes to make education more democratic, lower in cost, and improved is to simply put it on the web is frankly naive. What the increased availability and variety of course content will increasingly do instead … is put more of a focus on the need to have such content be more contextually appropriate and culturally relevant. For example, take a simple math problem involving the sale or purchase of something – will that be in dollars or pesos? What kind of a purchase would it be for – car or bicycle, noodles or rice? Where would the purchase take place – Walmart or a druggist?

    To leave the cultural context out of the learning is to naively pretend that it isn’t relevant to learning. To do so is a disservice to students – undermines its effectiveness.

    • Terry Heick - Contributing Editor

      February 23, 2012 at 10:05 am

      Jim and Nik–I appreciate both of your positions. Learning and culture cannot be untangle without killing both–for both learners and those that create institutions. Being that so many learners are connected these days make it impossible that isn’t impacting learning on at least a societal level, but there is incredible work to be done, with the internet still akin to the wild west.

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