Education is one of the most important parts of an individual’s life. Throughout our lives, we go through (on average) twelve years of compulsory education, and then we are given the choice and opportunity (most of the time, in lucky circumstances) to further our education if we wish to. For some students, expanding on their education means spending their summers at summer schools like Oxford Summer School, and for others it means taking a gap year after high school graduation, before embarking on a further three to four years of higher education to earn a degree. Traditionally, the chance to go to university meant that students had to schedule the rest of their lives around their academic timetable for each semester. Old-school universities and colleges demanded that students dedicate most of their time and energy into their studies at university or college, and that consequently meant that they had to sacrifice other aspects of life in the name of ensuring they got all marks possible during their studies. These days, those traditional methods of schooling are no longer the only option, effectively opening the world of higher education to students that, previously, were unable to even dream of it, much less live it.
Over the years, it has become increasingly obvious that the education industry is in need of revitalisation. Traditional learning demanded that students be present at classes in real-time, with universities and colleges going so far as to even mark attendance for classes. Furthermore, if students did not attend a certain number of classes, they either failed that percentage, or the entire course as a result. This policy was initially introduced as a way of getting students to stop slacking off, but what it really meant was that students were having to sacrifice shifts at work – their way of earning a living – even more, meaning that they were attending classes but being frustrated with the fact they had to. This is not down to students merely preferring working over studying; it is due to the fact that, for most full-time students, their timetable demands that to attend all classes and tutorials, they must be on campus three to five days a week (sometimes even more). This demand for so much time on campus obviously takes away from their time to be able to work shifts to earn a living. A solution has finally been found, however: online education.
Online education is an inspirational advancement in the sector; a stroke of modern-day genius. It is a known fact that mental health struggles are increasingly present and noted among the global student body, and a large part of the reason for this is because students who attend traditional schools are forced to sacrifice so much else of their lives in order to make it through university or college successfully and with their degree to their name. The introduction of online education platforms allows students who struggle with the traditional education system to learn in a way that gives them the balance they lack with the old-school methods and practices. This is not to say that all students are moving away from traditional education institutions, just that there is a need for adaptive, flexible education options as well – and online education has filled that gap perfectly and without hesitation. As the education industry adapts to shift itself into alignment with the needs of new and future generations of students, it becomes more inclusive, and thus more relevant moving into this next transitory era.
While the development of online learning is incredibly exciting, it is important to note that open education is unlikely to ever completely surpass traditional education. Studying online is a fantastic option for thousands of students, but for others they will always have a preference for traditional learning environments and methods, and there is nothing wrong with that. The future of education does not lie in changing the foundations of its success, but rather it lies in adapting to the changing needs of the generations that will be going through the education system in the future and beyond. Catering to students with all preferences is an important part of allowing the industry to move forward and go confidently from strength to strength.
The education sector has been in a state of consistent evolution for years now, but with students not appearing to be overly perceptive to the little changes that were in motion, it became increasingly obvious that a much bigger, more inclusive change was necessary. When the concept of online education was first breached to industry professionals, many laughed it off. The education system was not broken, as they saw it, so why fix it? The answer comes with listening to the requests of the students themselves. Current generations of students – and future generations as well – are leading increasingly busy lives, and many simply do not have the time to schedule the rest of their lives around their education. Online education is the perfect answer to balancing the system, allowing learners who prefer either the old-school methods or modern technologies to have access to an education system that speaks to their needs, making it the perfect alignment for the education industry going forward.