Mark Twain said, “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” People invest huge amount of their energy and money in schooling. There is a huge rush and drive to get into a premier school. Organizations pay a premium to attract the alumni of such schools. And they invest a lot of their effort and other resources in getting their senior executives attend a few classes in some of the best schools. While all of these have been on the rise, there is a huge upswing in online education and MOOCs (massive open online courses). A lot of investors are very enthused about this concept and needless to say that platforms like http://www.edx.org, http://www.coursera.org, http://www.khanacademy.org (and there are many more!) have made a huge contribution. The courses being provided by the MOOCs are in no way inferior in quality than the best-in-class physical classrooms. Yet, these online courses are not seriously recognized by the employer organizations. Neither these providers have pushed for recognition amongst the learners and the hiring institutions. So far, it appears that these online platforms are at best a supplement to what people could learn in physical classrooms! If so, is the hullabaloo about the online education justified?
I think, it’s a pity that the corporate world hasn’t yet taken notice of the MOOCs. The knowledge gathered and perspectives developed by the learners in a new-age learning system is equally good if not better than the traditional schools. These new systems help a student access best-in-class knowledge and perspectives without any restriction on the timing. Once can access this again and again; deliberate and discuss with not only the teacher but with peers! As technology improves further, employers can search for the talent who have an inclination and expertise matching with what they have in mind. The HR fraternity will stand to gain a lot if they include these in their mainstream activities.
Secondly, the returns on investment (ROI) of training in an organization have always been difficult to measure. Online education is undoubtedly way too economical compared to someone travelling to a school purely for development purposes. And it’s way too easier than a classroom model of education to follow up on the knowledge gathered, spread the same amongst the others in the organization and apply some of them into day to day working of the organization.
Last but not the least, many leading schools with traditional delivery methods have changed their teaching methods to keep pace with technological advancements. They have integrated some of the recent tools into their pedagogy. But, this development is not a reason enough to go to school for all our learning needs.
It is beyond doubt that a school helps one meet many people with similar purpose, become a part of several human networks that could be extremely powerful for the life ahead and build a long-lasting association with an institution that plays a transformative role in someone’s life. However, it doesn’t mean that one cannot build such impactful networks being a part of a virtual community. Similarly, one doesn’t necessarily have to rely on offline methods alone to draw recommendations, tap into others’ experience and so on.
The world around us is changing. Our lives are changing due to the advent of technology. The way we communicate and relate with the others has transformed. So, the education methods need not be a physical school bounded by its own resources rather they need to be virtual, unbounded and omnipresent.