A Look at the Evolution of Online Education

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A Look at the Evolution of Online Education

Like almost every other industry, the education industry has experienced a lot of change in the last two decades. Just as the Internet has influenced everything else, it has also had a great affect on education. Twenty-five years ago if you wanted to earn a college degree in most cases you had to enroll in school, attend classes and go through the entire college experience like everyone else. Online education opportunities did exist–they’ve been around since the late 80s and early 90s – but they were still in their infancy. Fast-forward to 2017 and the evolution of online education has been immense. Here’s a closer look at how it arrived where it is today and where it could be going.

Internet Specific Education

So where are we now? The online education industry has started to move into a new phase: education designed specifically for the Internet. In other words, classes are now being created and designed for the web. Now that information is so easy to access – for almost everyone from almost anywhere – online education is becoming a motivator and facilitator for students to go out and learn that information, instead of teaching them. Online education is also becoming more tailored to our mobile world, which means better content and better storytelling. It also means more interaction and shorter lessons, which pushes students to take charge of their own education and curriculum.

Make Information Accessible

It all started when people began to put information on the web. Before the Internet, you had to read books to get information. The web changed that forever. Information was so valuable because it took much more effort to get it. You had to buy, and read, textbooks and go to classes to listen to instructors if you wanted to get an education. That is no longer the case. Everything is available online, and in many cases free of charge.

Virtual Classroom

The next step was to start putting the classroom on the web. It began by recording lectures and other instruction materials and then playing them online for students to access. From there, the videos became live lectures and students could not only “attend” class from anywhere in the world, but they could interact with their instructors via live webcams. The virtual classroom was born.

What’s Next

It’s hard to predict what the future of online education will hold. According to some in the industry, “online” education won’t even exist. That’s not because getting an education over the Internet won’t be available, but rather because it will simply be the norm. Therefore, “online” education will just become “education.” Some of the changes that will result could include a deeper integration of the digital and in-person experience. As far as twenty more years from now goes, that is really anyone’s guess. As virtual reality and artificial intelligence continue to advance the possibilities are practically endless.

 

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Alan Olsen, CPA

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