Monday, July 16, 2012
Is the Future of Education Online Degrees
Perish the thought for in-person college professors and administrators. But for the rest of us, the appeal of receiving an online education is becoming more and more, well, appealing – and in the 21st century, it only makes more and more sense to turn online.
Why? Consider the advantages of an online degree: convenience, cost, flexibility – the list goes on and on. Sure, it doesn’t exactly take the place of a brick-and-mortar institution, but if education is supposed to do anything, it’s evolving with the times. Unfortunately, many colleges and universities seem hopelessly lost in an outdated model of lecture-first education that doesn’t only not teach students on an optimal level, but it downright bankrupts them in a culture in which college (and its expensive student loans) is considered a necessity.
So is the future of education in online degree schools? If you ask us, it is. But let’s get into further depth and explore the fundamental question of why. In fact, let’s present five reasons in favor of the online education.
Education should be difficult if one is going to challenge oneself; but even college professors would acknowledge that surely convenience can be optimized. Just as a brick-and-mortar institution hopes for the best possible logistical situation for its parking, students across the United States should be looking for education that is both challenging and convenient. Online education defeats traditional education in convenience several hundred times over; in fact, there’s no real way to measure the advantage.
Being able to learn from home gives incentive for people who otherwise have no time for education to actually pursue a degree. Single mothers, for example, who want to improve their lot in life should have access to this type of degree because it allows them a better range of career options.
Increasing the convenience of education also increases its accessibility. Anyone who’s in favor of education ought to be in favor of that.
With better convenience comes flexibility, and this is exactly what people need in tough economic times. Flexibility can include not only a flexible schedule, but a flexible education. If an education is not customized to the student that is going to receive it, what exactly does that student stand to benefit?
Instead, the flexibility offered by online degrees – flexibility of location, of time, of just about everything – is exactly what modern education needs. Making education more flexible also means it’s becoming more accessible, which allows more people to focus on their own education without the need for brick-and-mortar buildings in far-off lands.
If college professors can agree on something, it’s that their department needs a bigger budget. Money helps education, whether one is comfortable with the idea of money and education mixing or not. And low costs for education help more people to prosper in a number of ways.
First, the low cost of running an online education center as opposed to a physical one means that more people will be willing and able to establish these new centers. In essence, that increases the overall options of education for everyone across the nation, and places a greater emphasis on nationwide education as a whole.
Second, the low cost of attaining an online degree as opposed to the traditional way (student loans, here we come!) means that education is more available; who wouldn’t be for more available education for the general populace? That’s exactly what education needs these days, particularly when the economic news is so dispiriting that many people are forgoing their educations before they even consider them. That’s not what should happen in the 21st century, or any century for that matter.
No, we’re not talking about the kind of experimentation that happens behind closed doors in a brick-and-mortar college dorm. Rather, experiments in education can only help to expand the knowledge of what it means to educate a student. Online learning centers and online degrees are just a whiff of the overall possibilities of mixing the Internet in with the national education system. If experimentation ceases, then so does the progress of education itself. Even the stuffiest of college professors has to admit that this would be a bad thing for educators everywhere.
If there is truly value in education, then it is worth improving – even at the expense of the lavish incomes of traditional college professors. Lower costs might mean lower salaries, but there is always money to be made when you perform a job well. The experimental nature of online degrees helps drive up competition to perform well and everyone – particularly students – win as a result.
Let’s face it; college education is essentially broken. Not only have massive student loans to the populace watered down the uniqueness of the college degree, but the thing is so expensive and time-consuming to attain that it’s hardly worth the investment. Bringing costs back down and improving the lives of students should be the main goals of education in this day and age, even if it comes at the expense of tenured college professors’ sense of entitlement. Online degrees offer a glimmer of hope that education will not only improve, but will become more cost-effective and therefore more effective.
Acquiring an online degree should not necessarily be an easy task. Easy education is hardly education at all. But just because something happens online does not mean it’s not challenging. Technology should be used to empower us as a nation and as a species in general; it should be spread freely in order to help the greatest amount of people prosper. How are we going to prosper without widespread – and affordable – college education?
That question isn’t easy to answer because affordable college education isn’t easy to come by these days. But if people are going to improve the state of education over the next century, it needs to come with changes and adaptations – some of which won’t be comfortable for all. But ultimately, the hope is that college education will see a revolution in effectiveness, cost reduction, and overall quality. If that’s not a good dollop of hope for the future, what else could be?