Friday, April 14, 2006

What's Ahead in E-Learning

Will we get to the point where a physical public school is an outdated idea from a bygone era? Will it soon be possible to have a “cyber-learning consultant,” whose purpose is to arrange a completely electronic curriculum for students? Will there come a time when students, for whatever reason, leave the public school entirely in exchange for a digitally-based education, designed specifically for them?

Under a program like the one described above, the student’s schedule would be filled with weekly podcasts, online tests and various online readings. For students who progress well and are in need of building interpersonal skills, there is the option of an educational online game with other students across the globe. What if the student experiences trouble in his or her classes and no one is around? No problem. Visit a cyber-tutor using instant messaging AV technology.

By creating a program to fit the needs of the students, the education becomes catered or more suited to the type of intelligence the student exhibits. Problems with ADHD are no longer significant in this environment. The cyber learning consultant comes in and constructs the type of program to fit the student who is easily distracted. A typical classroom with 30 other students and dozens of triggers and distractions may not be the place for this type of learner. Institutions are slow to react to the needs of special learners, but an E-environment adapts quickly.

Education is the second largest industry in the United States,* and many in this industry are familiar with E-learning. The world of online classes or cyber-based instruction and educational software is nothing new, but this three part essay takes us further down the path in order to ask some important questions: “where is this phenomenon taking us? Will it be good for students and teachers, and will it be good for business and the economy?

*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, 2006-07 Edition, Educational Services, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs034.htm (visited March 22, 2006). Last Modified Date: December 20, 2005

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