The Internet was born as a medium to access and share some files over a private network and has since evolved into a smorgasbord of human communication. As it metamorphosed into a medium where virtually everyone and everything is available, accessible – it also seeped into one of the most fundamental sectors of human civilization: education.
In an era of dizzyingly fast internet speeds, with an ubiquitous presence driven by a plethora of digital content, the next age of education has well and truly arrived. Gone are the days of lugging back-breaking backpacks to school, filled with books with endless pages and the drudgery of time bound learning. The Internet grants us access to immense compendium of knowledge, available anyplace and at any time.
The new instruments have not only changed the medium of delivery but also everything else in between and beyond including peer-to-peer collaboration and learning, the way feedback is given and received – instantaneously ! Assignments can be collected, submitted and evaluated – online. It is in real-time and that’s what makes it so customisable. Learners can do it anytime and that frees up a lot more time for other engagements.
Learning is a continuous process and with the current higher education model being exceedingly antiquated, more and more people are not finding value in making exorbitant investments in education at a time where outdated accreditation systems are giving way to a focus on learning real world skills. This is where online learning has well and truly disrupted the classical model of education. With the world as we know it moving along at a staggering pace, by the time one learns how to do something – let’s say how to build an iPhone app, the technology and its intrinsic learning curve have steepened exponentially.
Almost 14 years ago MIT opened up its materials for all its courses and made them freely available on the internet. The Open Courseware initiative ushered in a new era and style of learning, big names such as Berkeley, Stanford and Yale have only followed suit. Initiatives such as the Khan Academy, Academic Earth and P2PU have allowed for grassroots open education projects that have reorganized and revolutionized learning outside institutional boundaries and routinely grant learners recognition for their achievements akin to the real world. Nowadays, you can find online courses on literally anything under the sun. There are many such websites which provide education in niche categories.
One such website that caters to stock markets enthusiasts is Wall Street Survivor, which gives retail investors deep insights on how to invest in the stock market through videos & courses. As an adult, boosting your personal finance knowledge does require more effort than attending class in high school. But the Internet has made it easy for consumers to track down basic tools and to take online classes if their schedule is packed, all of which are available on the Wall Street Survivor. Additionally, you can also apply your learning on their virtual trading platform to get hands on trading experience.
Almost 90% of faculty in the United States are using social media in the courses they are teaching. 32 % of students in higher education are taking at least one online course. 8 out of 10 faculties in the United States alone report using online video for class. It is common knowledge that Wikipedia (the online encyclopedia) has become the most often used research resource for students worldwide and a whopping 93% of students in the United States go online rather than the library to research. In the face of such numbers it is easy to say that while online learning may not yet completely replace the way we learn, it is definitely the medium of the future.