Archive for September, 2011

The Future of Online Education

With the invention of devices such as the tablet computer and smartphones becoming capable of doing more than ever, it’s only a matter of time before our methods of education begin to change as well. Online education has become quite the viable option for students with prior obligations, careers, family or financial situations that prevent them from attending a campus each day. Plus, with the rising cost of tuition and textbooks, several students simply can’t afford to pay for a traditional classroom education.

In the future, students may be able to attend classes from their tablet computers with the invention of video conferencing. Professors and instructors can set up cameras in the back of the classroom if they wish and stream lessons directly to them in real time. They can also have interactive options for students to make them feel as if they are still right there in the room. Streaming classes and putting them in archives is another good option if students are ill or need to go back and review a lesson right before an exam. Doing this can also benefit the instructor if they have plans for a vacation, sabbatical or conference that they must attend. Rather than getting a substitute, they can instead record their lesson plans and offer them to the students online. This way the course work won’t be interrupted and both the student and instructor can easily slide back into the normal routine.

There are already innovations and applications being developed that will allow students to purchase textbooks online by buying one chapter at a time rather than having to buy the entire textbook at the beginning of the semester only to have to use half of it. Not to mention the fact that when they try to sell it back they may receive only a quarter of what they payed for it. And in some cases it can actually be less than this if they are able to sell the book back at all.

Although it may be an odd thought, there may be a day when the need for college and university campuses is eliminated altogether if there is enough of a demand for online education, or at least learning institutions won’t have to spend millions and millions of dollars on building new classrooms, dorms and learning centers for swelling numbers of students. That money can instead be used to improve on the quality of education both online and for the students currently enrolled in on-campus classes. One of the main frustration about attending class is the difficulty of finding parking. Student who attend classes online obviously won’t have do deal with this and can save both time and money on travel and gas as well as frustration.