Many articles in newspapers and educational sites have suggested that digital education is expanding, flexing muscles and weeding out traditional schooling. You may even read forecasts that educational centres in their present form will disappear, and make way for online education. Let’s delve into these news bits a little more.
Is traditional education good enough?
We rarely come across anyone who keeps children away from school and goes for online education. If anyone sets this “extreme” example –they will be deemed crazy and receive a barrage of free advice if not blows. Most people believe traditional schooling is the best.
I agree that conventional education is still the torch bearer of our education system, although it struggles to keep up with the times and advances in science and technology. Our tiny tots still need to carry that overloaded bag on their backs – for now.
Online education and its appeal
It is more advanced technologically; it has the needed appeal. Online education is ideally suited to make your children prosper in their field of interest. It is up-to-date with latest advances in science, technology, medicine, arts, culture, travel, transportation and various other areas.
It goes beyond ancient science, and pre-historic life-skills taught in schools. It is flexible and can be made to suit your specific requirements. Kids always want to know more. They want to know how to do things practically. Not everything is explainable via textbooks. Apart from online courses, we can seek to enhance our knowledge through Google, Wikipedia and YouTube – which contains the latest information on science, people, technological advances and discoveries. Most of the reputed online sites are periodically updated and offer new insights and courses – like SkillShare.com, Udemy.com and Coursera.org.
Then, is digital education right thing for our kids? How do we decide? Here are some factors to consider.
1) Flexibility: Digital education is most flexible, to suit your schedule. It comes in the form of a series of videos accompanied by downloadable PDF notes. You can learn at your pace. There is no need to run around the campus, and switch buildings to learn different subjects. You don’t have to leave town, or delegate household responsibilities to someone. You can attend classes at home, dressed in your pyjamas.
If you need to become more organised in life, practice to work around a fixed schedule and say no to free time – on-campus education is the best.
2) Cost: Campus education has additional costs including hostel, food and university fees. In case of digital education, the course providers make training videos using professional equipment and editing software. They are in the form of video lessons. Regarding picture quality and sound - they are as good as real. These video lessons can be bookmarked mid-way and accessed at your convenience.
All said and done, traditional learning, although expensive has its benefits - like access to vast libraries and real-time tutors.
3) Social interaction: If you want kids to build relationships, meet people, enjoy student life on-campus, go on field trips, and participate in cultural programmes - you may choose conventional schooling. Online education is more about video-based learning and online mentoring – where a personal touch and face to face interactions are absent.
4) Digital education, for whom? If you are more of a nerd, love gadgets and trends in technology – digital learning is the way to go. If you want to have an edge over other students, and upgrade your skills to match the latest trends – go for it.
If you are returning to education after a long break, don’t want to take any chances, wish to study under supervision, and with minimal distractions and spare time, traditional is the way to go.
In 2010 – a survey by US Department of Education – working on the finding of 45 studies concluded that online learning has the same effectiveness as conventional learning.
Blended learning - best of both worlds
Blended learning is getting increasingly popular. It offers a blend of both online and conventional education. Here the human interaction is only once a week. Assignments are usually online; students have a whole week to complete them and clear their doubts during the weekly interactions.
Here is another version of blended learning for kids in college: - It can be in the form of a nursing or physiotherapy, which provides online anatomy lessons. It can have an on-campus nursing or physiotherapy simulation lab. The idea is to incorporate online learning where appropriate and has hands-on campus sessions for practicality.
Now that the options are laid down, it is for the students to decide – what suits them best. It will also take time for the whole education system - to think beyond burdening kids with massive school bags and make education less stressful and more meaningful. As of now, the safe bet - is to pursue traditional education, and complement it by digital learning – so that we stay in tune with our times!