Emergence of Online Learning in Education

Prof. (Dr.) Saju K. James

“Formal Education will make you a living, Self-Education will make you a fortune.” – Jim Rohn

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Bill Gates, the 2nd wealthiest person in the world with a total worth of $108.4 billion as of early 2020 dropped out of Harvard University before he co-founded Microsoft, one of the biggest tech giants in the world. While he may seem to be an exception rather than the majority, corporations around the world have been headed by individuals with no formal education. This was possible on their part because they took the time and initiative to educate themselves; the edge they gain over formal education is that they need not be limited to the curriculum that colleges and universities follow.

              This is where online education comes into the picture. As a concept it has been around for 170 years, and has its origins in a correspondence course that was available in Britain wherein the lessons and assignments were communicated through mail. It has only been translated to reality for the average person with the advancements in computer technology over the past few decades. While they may never truly replace formal education, they act as a medium to acquire, hone and master new skills to gain a competitive edge in the corporate world, or for their personal satisfaction. There are multiple ways you can do this, but the most popular remains MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses that target large classes like that in a typical university classroom. Nowadays the best business schools in India including the NBA accredited top 10 MBA colleges in India are insisting the students to join the MOOCs courses. Now you can learn anything- from a musical instrument to the depths of the financial market to the secrets of the cosmos- from the comforts of your home.

Corporations have been catching up with this trend and advertise accordingly. Idea promoted its internet services in 2014 by branding the internet as its own- by introducing the concept of IIN (Idea Internet Network), an online university without barriers for anyone to learn which encapsulates the ‘idea’ of online education. The government’s pet project Digital India also sought to provide access to millions of citizens, with one of its primary aim being universal education and digital literacy.

              The concept that being born poor is fate but to die poor is a decision has never before been truly realized before the arrival of remote education. It has heralded the idea of the American Dream to the global citizen- wherein all have the opportunity for prosperity and success, regardless of their origins, achieved through hard work.

Education in its primary sense today has been unchanged from the blackboard chalk method since the industrial era and is by nature a static method. The modern world is fast paced and technologically driven where skills become obsolete and new ones pop up in a matter of years. The pandemic that has grappled us in 2020 is a perfect opportunity to scrape or modify old institutions to adopt and embrace the revolution that online education brings into the 21st century.

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