How has the Internet affected Higher Ed?

- 2 mins

The advent of the Internet has meant that education has changed rapidly in the last thirty years, to a massive and abrupt increase in accessibility to resources. Any answer is now a Google Search™ away, and, as Terry Heick discusses in his article, this kind of increased accessibility comes with its own problems. (The fact that I used a Google Search to come across this article just reinforces his point!)

Listing out the ways in which the Internet has affected education here would be impractical, but the top three benefits, in my view would be

There is no doubt that services that have popped up in the Internet age have been greatly disruptive to the traditional education industry. A case in point is the passionate debate over MOOCs, or Massively Online Open Courses. Players like Coursera, edX, and Khan Academy are definitely changing the access to quality educational resources, and have been hailed as the next age of education, where students attend classes remotely. This has led to debated on the restructuring of institutions of higher education, leading to paradigms where massive infrastructure in terms of classrooms and laboratories are no longer needed, and are replaced by online forums and communities which are truly global and diverse.

The opponents of MOOCs argue that this massive expansion in terms of accessibility does little for the quality education. Jonathan Reese protests the utility of MOOCs:

Education, as any real teacher will tell you, involves more than just transmitting facts. It means teaching students what to do with those facts, as well as the skills they need to go out and learn new information themselves.

This week, the topic of net neutrality has been making the rounds again, with the President voicing his views against net neutrality. This has sparked off debates and petitions like this one. Whether we consider MOOCs as the next generation of education, or simply tools of new age neocolonialism (cf. Atbach, 2014), is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is, the very existance of the internet has huge implications on the future of education, and the education lobby for net neutrality demonstrates the extent to which the education industry is tied to the Internet today.

This article dissects that causes for the decline in library use, and relates it to a decline in public funding. It is definitely worth studying how this has led to a shift towards the popularities of MOOCs at the end of the recession of 2008. Definitely an interesting dataset for some quick analysis about the trends in public library funding and spending!

Resources

The Internet as a path to adult learning The Internet of things: Riding the Wave in Higher Education

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