Klaus Koster – Expands in Reach

Online education is going to produce a fundamental change in the way we see education, as well as how we participate in learning. It expands in reach daily, providing access to education to anyone that can connect to the internet. You a no longer bound to a physical location or educational professionals in your immediate vicinity. What might some of those changes look like? Who benefits from these the most?

Our current education system presents information in a very linear fashion, struggles to engage unmotivated students, and doesn’t provide the ‘why’ we might need to learn something. We listen and watch lectures, do the homework, take the tests, and repeat. To what end? Sure, we graduate with a degree from high school or a university, but did we really gain beneficial skills that won’t be forgotten in a year?

As online learning continues to become more mainstream, we will see more students re-entering education, not just youth entering their local schools. Students overall will be more motivated to learn new skills, particularly as the needs of the economy change. This creates an environment of on-demand learning. We can sit in the comfort of our homes and make conscious decisions to expand our professional skill sets, enjoy our hobbies to a greater extent, and interact with new and exciting people. On-demand learning will become increasingly interactive and the students will guide their own pace, topics, and where they do their learning.

Remember that fundamental change I mentioned? The on-demand learning atmosphere isn’t that fundamental change. It is in how we participate in education. Since we were born, we have been experimental learners. We all start out as little scientists exploring the world around us. Sometimes we would get frustrated, hurt, or sick. Other times we would laugh or be amazed. Each second, we were learning new things, with a guiding hand. How will this relate to the future of education? We will begin replicating the natural learning process in online education. The student will start by experimenting or ‘playing’ with the topic or tool they want to understand. Soon, they will hit a roadblock. This is where the teacher or the ‘parent’ will step in to guide the student it the correct direction. If necessary, the student can expand on their roadblock until they completely understand it via the ‘parent’, books, videos, or a wealth of other resources on the internet. This style of learning provides motivation to the learner when they figure out something. It deepens and strengthens their skills and ingrains them in long term memory, particularly when they get frustrated, then succeed at a topic.

With such a fundamental change from students being taught to students being supported, you might think there is a less need for educated professionals. However, this change benefits both the students and the teachers. The educator now has more time to spend with students struggling with their own learning. Since students can go at their own pace, they can re-watch or re-read content as many times as necessary, until it sticks with them. The educational professional will always be required due to ‘quicker’ students requiring help with more advanced topics and ‘slower’ students getting extra, more focused help, where they need it.

We can picture a world where educators will be free from teaching to the standardized tests. Students are free to move quicker or slower based on their learning process and needs. Neither will be bound to a specific location. Interactive, exploratory learning will become the norm for a more educated population. Our information will reach more people than it ever has, providing education to those who need it most, even while some of use sleep. Our education will be inside of this little magic box that displays the whole world on a screen, and that screen sure is bright.

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