Online Learning: Disruption in Education

First, have a look at the queries that somewhere challenge the very fundamentals of the traditional education system:

  • What is school for?
  • How can schools around the world educate their students better?
  • What does the future hold for overall structure of education system?

Now, let’s go through some of the quotes from thought leaders in education, marketing and investment:

Shut down the public education system …The public school system is designed to produce a workforce for an economy that will not be there. And therefore, with all the best intentions in the world, we’re stealing the kids’ future.” -Alvin Toffler ‘s “Third Wave” in Edutopia.

“Large-scale education was not developed to motivate kids or to create scholars. It was invented to churn out adults who worked well within the system. Scale was more important than quality, just as it was for most industrialists.” ­– Seth Godin, who raised question “what is school for?” and  has serious reservation about “industrialized schooling”.

“…education is highly regulated; it is first and foremost about the future of children—and thus the future of our country as well—so the stakes are high…” says Clayton Christensen , who has recently been declared rank #1 among the 50 most influential management gurus by Thinkers 50.

“I don’t think universities will disappear. They won’t be replaced wholesale. They’ll just lose the de facto monopoly on certain types of learning that they once had. There will be many different ways to learn different things, and some may look quite different from universities.”- Paul Graham in his recent post on “Frighteningly Ambitious Startup Ideas”.

So, these queries and statements point to some impending fundamental radical changes in our traditional education system.

Now, the question is how we are going to fill the void created by the traditional education system. Is technology the answer to the issues in our traditional education system? Clayton sees “the classic signs of disruption in the world of education”  and asserts that “computer-based or online learning” can make inroads in the educational system in classic disruptive fashion. It is “an exciting disruption because it allows anyone to access a consistent quality learning experience…virtually anywhere at any time”.

Please do take a pause here. Let’s go a decade back. Circa 2001, MIT, with its OpenCourseWare,  made materials for all its courses freely available on the Internet that has enabled other teachers and lifelong learners around the world to listen and read what is being taught at MIT.

5 years later, in April 2006, UC Berkeley put complete academic courses on Apple’s iTunes U,which is now one of the biggest collections of recorded classroom lectures in the world. A year later, in October 2007, the school launched UC Berkeley on YouTube. So, the World Wide Web has unlocked the keys to a worldwide virtual school, potentially leveling the playing field for students around the world.

Taking cues from MIT and UC Berkeley, several universities, companies and organizations have started disrupting the online education space that includes Open Yale , Open Culture , Khan Academy , Academic Earth , P2PU , Skillshare , Scitable and Skype in the classroom . Experts predict that online education could reach 14 million in 2014.

(You can have a look at the 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning and Harvard Business School Review , which are very optimistic about the growth in online learning.)

It is beyond doubt that the networked revolution is creating huge profits, significant opportunities, and a lot of change. The rise of online education will lead to a student-paced culture as opposed to our current forms of custodial education, which are teacher-based.

We can conclude the disruption in education with the following words :

“Learning is not a product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”-Albert Einstein

Adapted from :
Clayton Christensen: Why online education is ready for disruption, now.
How Disruptive Innovation Changes Education
How the Internet is Revolutionizing Education
Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin
Reshaping Learning from the Ground Up: Alvin Toffler tells us what’s wrong — and right — with public education.

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