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Written and witnessed by a high-school biology teacher.
When the internet started its public use in the 90’s, it was hardly available to everyone due to the high costs (and low efficiency) of both computers and a persistent internet connection. But recently, as we moved more and more into the years between 2000 and 2010, there were major leaps in both the quality of computers, the internet and their prices. The internet started to become highly available, and as readily available as a mobile carrier signal.
Since 2010 until now, the extremely fast progress in communication technology seems unstoppable. High speed internet is now available in much cheaper prices than before, and internet access is now possible at low cost from the simplest and cheapest of smart phones.
But unfortunately, this readily available vast pool of information resources and knowledge is collectively treated by most education systems throughout the world until now as though it does not exist.
The Ostrich Effect:
Education, just as workplaces, hides from the internet, choosing to ignore the fact that it is out there, and could be greatly utilized to greatly reduce the costs of education while also increasing the efficiency of education. Yet the educational systems throughout the world chooses to carry on as though nothing has changed since before the internet.
It appears as though education is sitting in a comfort zone, it has always worked that way before, why shouldn’t it work that way now?
This is the same exact reaction that electricity received from different societies when it first started being readily available. The only difference is that electricity was a source of energy. That is why the greatest impacts of electricity was on these processes which consume energy. On the other hand, the internet is a source of information. Wouldn’t you think such a vast source of information should have a huge impact on education the same way electricity had on industry?
What the internet could change for education:
Already, education standards are falling. Even Canada, where the standards of education are deemed highest in the modern world, is falling behind. The simultaneous rise in the costs of education and numbers of students are not helping the matter. So many physical institutes were made available, and continue to do so at extremely high costs that could be easily avoided.
Schools are made to house so many children at the same time, with all the schools’ consumption of energy, paper, books and materials, along with huge education staff payments, that are continuously rising higher than ever. This is not to mention the vast amounts of resources, in gas and busses, with their maintenance and their drivers. Not to mention that they contribute significantly to the traffic jams of rush hours in cities, wasting millions of hours of time for other citizens, whose time could better be spent working, or relaxing to prepare for the work of the following day.
Busses are required to transport millions of students in all societies and countries repeatedly back and forth between home and school on daily basis for months on end, when the classroom could simply be available online.
What is it going to take?
It is going to take huge amounts of debt, and other countries successfully implementing the virtual school and classroom model for other countries to follow suit. Seriously, cutting the education budget, which makes up 4% to 6% of a country’s entire GDP, just came on a silver platter. As it currently stands, there are only two scenarios left for the impact of the internet on education:
The first scenario: Pretending it is not there:
The numbers of students and the costs of education will stay rising where either spending will rise in attempt to keep up with the rising costs, or standards will fall as governments will fail to increase the education budget sufficiently to maintain the standards.
The second scenario: Utilizing the internet:
The direct costs of education and its load on national budgets could drop significantly, while raising the efficiency of education at the same time. Furthermore, the impact would not only be great in countries that already have a good system of education (that is struggling to remain that way), the impact would also be massive on other countries with masses of uneducated children. Whether the reason in this failure comes from governments or families to keep up with the costs of education, the cheaper and more efficient option can only have one outcome: greater numbers of better educated children at lower costs.
What should be done:
There is not much time left to allow the internet to properly make its impact and mark on education, much in the same way it has created an impact on every aspect of our lives. I admit that a system that would effectively work is going to be highly complicated to develop and may require years of experimentation. On the bright side however, these experiments with children attending virtual schools have already begun, and it is only a matter of time before other parents choose that option gradually over the coming years.
Hopefully, in a nearby future, physical schools and colleges will be destined to empty, the same way libraries already did.
Have you enjoyed this post? Check out this one on 7 Reasons to Enroll Your Child in an Online Elementary School
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