Over the past decade, online education has arguably emerged as a viable alternative to traditional classroom-based learning. Online communication and interactions have helped people connect across distances and can help schools deliver their courses in a way that is convenient for learners. This evolution is one of the many future trends predicted to shape the future of online education as it exists today and in years to come. As online education matures, there are new techniques and tools used by instructors to provide a more interactive learning experience for their students.
Evolution of Online Education
The past 15 years have been the most revolutionary in education. With online, open-source, and modifiable learning materials, we are witnessing a new era that may fundamentally change the way students learn and educators teach. Here’s how it happened:
In 1999, the Internet quickly spread to high schools and universities. Students could now do their homework by doing research using search engines, reading Wikipedia entries, and downloading video lectures from YouTube. Even the most traditional students started finding pleasure in this new “virtual” way of learning.
Who were some of these early adopters?
Devry University has been offering online classes for over ten years, with more than 60,000 students enrolled. The university has been offering graduate degrees since 1997. But only recently have colleges started seeing a major student movement from offline to online education.
To go back to the future, we have to look at what’s going on in other countries. In the UK, for example, universities began offering online programs in 1997. They were very well received and even generated a significant amount of revenue with their first online degrees. Today, more than half of all students that attend university do so by enrolling into a distance or online program.
These student trends have given rise to new learning and teaching methods that can be implemented into future online education programs, including:
- Open source virtual labs with free material, such as YouTube lectures, Wikipedia entries, or video podcast archives
- Virtual field trips where students explore museums through 360-degree panorama pictures
- Interactive multimedia games that train the “real” skills needed to succeed in future jobs
- Full immersion simulations where future doctors can practice on virtual patients or future airline pilots can learn how to fly through simulated airports
These new tools have completely changed the future of online education. Today, students can study from anywhere at any time using their mobile devices and get the same degree of education as they would from a brick and mortar university.
What The Future Looks Like for Online Education
In the near future, many online lecture halls will be replaced by “virtual classrooms” where students can interact with their teacher through video conference or virtual reality technology. Schools may even adopt a model similar to Khan Academy, which offers free lectures on math and science. These future lectures may be given by the most renowned experts in their fields and will be archived for future generations to learn from them. With this interactive, easy-to-use platform, future students can study on their own schedule.
Online education has changed our lives forever and it’s only getting started. With a “one-world university,” future generations will be able to study what they want from any place in the world, interact with like-minded individuals and get a degree that matches future job requirements.
The future of online education is extremely bright. Online learning has evolved from its humble beginnings to a future where the majority of students will be enrolled in virtual classes. Online schools are getting more sophisticated, and more efficient ways for people to learn will continue being developed. Educational technology has allowed students to take courses even if they do not live near an accredited university, and future online education will be able to offer a vast number of courses to a greater number of students, transforming the educational world for good.
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