Information technology and the ever-increasing access to it has been a product of the 21st century. It has been both a blessing and a curse to the modern world, but does it also have an opportunity to give rise to global access to education? Some argue that the faults of an online education lead students to abuse internet access when “learning” subjects, while others see it as a tool to springboard educational opportunities for both young people as well as those whose community’s systems for education may not have adequate resources.
Massively open online courses, or MOOCs, have recently been made more readily available for online education. With these, students can take courses on several areas of discipline at a variety of different levels, ranging from single courses in business and finance to a more extensive series of courses on web design.
An online education platform utilizing MOOCs, Coursera, has been a forerunner in this type of educational experience by making these courses available for free to any student with access to a computer or smartphone. Co-founder Daphne Koller has made it her mission to enable impoverished communities by making these classes available as a “real course” experience, as opposed to a watered down or less intuitive version that a naysayer may argue is the downfall of online education.
These courses also provide a legitimate certificate that can act as college credit or be presented to a potential employer once a course or set of courses is finished. Koller contends that an online education not only makes courses more accessible, but is also a more enriched way of learning. The courses employ interactive techniques and self- and peer- evaluation during the lesson, where otherwise a student may be complacent or simply not paying attention.
So, students can enjoy a flexible and valuable education online from essentially anywhere in the world, but what does this mean for the future of global poverty?
Platforms such as these not only provide insight into education experiences through models of self-evaluation, self-tutoring, and accessibility, but also open doors for entrepreneurial self-starters. People with the drive to lift themselves out of poverty situations through their own ingenuity and passion would be able to do so, as long as this tool is made available. With seemingly limitless and fast-paced technology advances, online education has the potential to revolutionize the educational experience as a whole and enable more people to take advantage of the power of knowledge.
– Casey Hess