Digital Learning Will Change Education Forever

How do you choose the best education for your children?  For most of us in the UK, we look around at local schools, check gradings, maybe visit and speak to a few parents – then apply to that school a year in advance.   The next five years of our children’s formative years is then entrusted to that school.  Some motivated parents with time and resources may actually look further afield and perhaps move into the catchment area of a high performing school in preparation, this is of course not possible for everyone.

If you have the money of course there are even more options, private education sector in the UK is very strong and there are some wonderful independent schools if you can afford them. Money doesn’t buy your children success but it does give them a distinct advantage to someone who is forced to send their child to a failing inner city school.  But perhaps it doesn’t need to be this way, why should we be stuck in the 20th century with this restrictive model.  The internet has changed all this and digital learning opens up a myriad of new options if we can just break away from this model.

Online Education

At this moment there are literally thousands of courses and lessons available online in all manner of subject areas, most are free and accessible to all with a half decent internet connection.  You can sit courses from the world’s greatest centers of learning whenever you need. At first these courses were more advanced learning driven from higher education Universities and colleges, but that too is changing. In the UK we have had the Open University delivering distance learning for many decades, but this area is now exploding with the rise of the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course).

These mean that a lecturer or teacher no longer has to deliver  a lesson to a select few, it can be delivered online to tens of thousands using the internet.    Just like a few of us Expats sunning ourselves in the Costa Brava can use techniques like this – to watch the BBC in Spain online, so can students access an Oxford or MIT lecture from anywhere in the world.   The choice is in our hands and the world’s best educators can lead a generation of children in their education.

Imagine instead of choosing the best school out of a small choice located near where you live, you could pick and choose an entire curriculum from a selection of the world’s best teachers.  Does your son or daughter prefer science or languages? No problem you could individually tailor your own curriculum.  In Wales currently, technology is very poorly taught usually because the teachers have few relevant skills in order to teach much more than spreadsheets and desk top publishing.  But in a digital classroom that wouldn’t matter, technology could be taught by an expert not by Mrs Williams the Business studies teacher, or Mr Jones the Maths supply teacher.

There are dangers of course, in the same inequalities expanding from traditional education to the digital learning categories. Money is obviously going to be a driving force too, and slowly we are seeing some commercialization of these MOOC.  Also just like many other areas of online content, barriers are being placed up based on your location, although these currently can be bypassed by using some sort of ip address changing software like this.  Hopefully education can steer a different path than some of the other online resources, simply because the value to the planet is potentially huge with bringing high quality education to every child on the planet a possibility.  In reality this won’t happen of course, even something as basic as infrastructure required to deliver video to a PC is a long way from many countries – but as the world become more connected then it’s a goal worth aiming for!