A defining characteristic of recent decades has been exponential technological growth, and at the core of what has happened is the internet. As computing power has exploded, while simultaneously becoming cheap and portable, the internet has connected us to to global networks, altering how we interact personally, and how industries operate. And education is no exception to that. Let’s take stock of how education has been changed by the internet, and then speculate as to how the latest technological frontiers will impact education in the coming years.
Connecting Through Social Media
There was a time when learning was more solitary, and the academic path could be lonely, with long hours spent in libraries alone, diving into texts. And, to be fair, that aspect of education still exists. You will still sometimes have to put in the time on your own, and hopefully you’re the kind of person who takes enjoyment from being in libraries.
However, social media and the online environment have enabled a far greater degree of academic connectivity, such that when you delve into a subject, you can almost always find active online communities offering support, services and advice. When you get stuck for what to write, it takes just a few clicks to find useful Reddit essay help. When you want a deep dive on a subject, and multiple perspectives, you can ask a question on Quora, or, more often than not, find that someone has already asked the exact question you were thinking of, and it’s been addressed thoroughly.
And if you just want to feel connected with people going through the same learning experiences that you are, then social media will always be there, bubbling cozily in the background, and hopefully giving you a boost through the tough times, and congratulations when you make it through.
Online Learning is Growing
One thing online innovation has been great for is in enabling flexibility. In all areas the internet touches, people come to enjoy greater personalization and convenience, and a sense that rigid structures need not be so constraining after all. This is obvious when it comes to, for example, online shopping or streaming movies. What we’re seeing now though, is the rise of remote work, and remote education.
To be clear, distance learning is not a new concept. Correspondence courses have been available for decades, and it was possible to study from home. However, while this style of learning worked for some people, it could be an isolating experience and, prior to the technology we now have, didn’t allow for easy interaction, either peer to peer, or between students and teachers. Additionally, it wasn’t widely accepted as a regular way to study.
All that is now changing, as the internet allows us to connect with one another in real time, visually, wherever we are. We can share documents and other media, and collaborate with one another, in extended teams if necessary. And we don’t even need to be in the same country, let alone the same classroom. Also, due to the ease with which this is being done, and the benefits provided, these approaches are gaining widespread acceptance as legitimate and effective ways of learning.
What the Future Holds
There is a lot of talk recently of creating a metaverse, or multiple metaverses, although it’s not always clear exactly what this means. Essentially, it’s not actually that alien a concept, despite the sci-fi connotations. A metaverse really just refers to an immersive, virtual environment, in which people can move around and interact.
It’s a concept that is linked to blockchain technology, as unique online items can be created, stored immutably, and taken ownership of. Ok, that does sound a little sci-fi, and you might think it’s an area of development relevant only to gaming and social interaction. But, as existing social media has demonstrated, it’s likely to affect all areas of life, including business, commerce, and education. If you can currently interact and learn online, then imagine taking that to the next level: a virtual reality learning environment.
Achievements on the Blockchain
A metaverse would utilize blockchain technology, and a related use of such tech would be in keeping secure, easily accessible academic records. Blockchain technology can enable you to take full independent ownership of your personal data. At the moment, if you attend several different academic institutes, then your corresponding records will be kept internally at each one. With a blockchain ledger, though, that information can be all be kept in one place, is secure and resistant to fraud, and you personally are responsible for and have access to it.
And if the metaverse takes off, then your records–and any other blockchain-based assets–would be accessible right there, in virtual reality. How exactly new technology will continue to develop and influence education, we can’t yet know, but there is great potential, and it will be fascinating to see how it pans out.