Why Online Education is Not an Option, But a Necessity

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Online learning has been increasingly gaining more and more attention from students, teachers and education experts, especially after the introduction of MOOCs. E-learning continues to be increasingly popular in the education and corporate sectors as it continues to offer more and more benefits with every passing day. As technology is becoming more affordable and portable, computers have now become essential tools in education.

The Global eLearning Market

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A study conducted by Ambient Insight, a research firm, showed that the worldwide market for online learning tools and services was around US$ 27.1 billion in 2009. Moreover it was predicted that the market would double by the end of this year. Another study by GSV advisors estimates that the worldwide E-learning market would grow at 23 CAGR from 2012 to 2017; which is around $90-166.5 billion in 2012 and almost $255 billion in 2017. This is certainly meaningful rate of growth. With the continuous growth of E-learning market, the online education is also evolving significantly.

Reimagining Education

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Currently various online institutes, like Coursera, Khan Academy and EdX, are offering online educational programmes that aim to provide easily accessible high quality education to everyone across the globe, irrespective of their social and financial backgrounds. “We hope to democratize and reimagine education so that anyone, anywhere, regardless of his or her social status or income, can access education” says Anant Agarwal, the President of EdX, which was established by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard.

Online education has undoubtedly changed the way we teach and the way our students learn. The increasing acceptance of the blended learning approach in classrooms will gradually result in fewer classroom-based lectures. High quality video based lectures, which can be easily accessed online, help students to learn better as these use various types of graphs, charts and animations to make the lessons more comprehensible. Moreover eLearning is also helping in creating interactive learning experiences in the classroom which aim to strengthen the lectures. However the conditions will be more favourable for institutes that can make higher investments in producing better quality video lectures and lessons.

A Necessity, Not An Option

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Several experts believe that online learning has now become “need to have” instead of simply “nice to have.” The popularity of online programmes has gained such momentum that even the most prestigious universities and colleges are feeling the compulsion to offer some of their programmes online. These colleges and universities can’t help but feel threatened as the relevance of their education models and the value of their qualifications are being questioned by students worldwide. Hence adopting E-learning programmes have become more of a necessity for these big universities, instead of just being an option. It is only with the help of web-based learning programmes these institutions can maintain their viability and remain relevant in the coming future.

A Defining Moment

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As the times are changing, online education is also evolving. Earlier the online learning platforms were managed only by a group of enthusiastic professors from prominent universities or by entrepreneurs who had no academic experience. But now eLearning has grown out of its experimental phase and is moving ahead fast. That is why the appointment of former Yale University president Rick Levin as the new Chief Executive of Coursera is a defining moment in online education. Levin, an economist and an academic, is widely considered as one of the most prominent leaders of Yale and his participation will surely add to the online learning movement.

With the efforts and contributions of eminent leaders like Anant Agarwal of EdX, Sal Khan of the Khan Academy and Rick Levin of Coursera, the focus will shift from the necessity of MOOCs to how eLearning can improve education for our students, both online and in classrooms.

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