Education as an industry is facing some large technological and philosophical challenges in the 21C. Computers and the internet are, in many ways, rendering teachers and the bricks and mortar institutions obsolete. Schools at primary and secondary levels are having to ask themselves some tough questions. What are we here for? Are we primarily day care centres or are we here to teach kids how to learn? Once children are properly trained in how to use the information sources available and taught how to process that information, then, the old education system is obsolete. But what about universities: do they have a future?
Online Learning Means More Students Can Study Via this Medium
Tertiary level education is confronted with the same situation, but at a far more acute stage. The days of large lecture halls and classrooms are over. Everything, except lab work, can be done online. Students can interact via forums for tutorial work. Lectures are all available in audiovisual formats. Real life campuses are more like shopping malls than essential elements in the tertiary education paradigm. Online learning means more students can study, not being limited by how many car spaces and toilet facilities are available. We are left with the socialisation role, which many people think is integral to schools and universities.
More Self-Motivated Students
Audits and tests indicate that there is little difference between the standards produced by online students and their on-campus peers. Distance learning in the digital age is facilitating the creation of a more self-motivated student, who is less dependent upon relationships with flesh and blood teaching academics. Campus security is less of an issue because of this rapidly expanding online learning trend. The socialisation issue is a furphy, in my view, and, actually, detracts from the academic performance of students. These are not catered events but places of learning.
Secondary School Teachers are Forced to be Prison Guards
Schools spend much of their time dealing with issues pertaining to socialisation. School teachers at secondary level, often, describe themselves as more prison guards than teachers. This is because they spend the majority of their working time disciplining students. If we were serious about the standard of education at school level in this country, we would have far greater one-on-one teaching levels in our schools. Large groups of students are a distraction from the actual task of learning and teaching. A kid and a computer in a quiet room being overseen by a teacher is far better than 40 kids, of whom a third do not want to be there and act accordingly.