A Battle of the Ages: Traditional Education Versus Online Learning

9f0c8b44ed7b215e9bfe0527e3a0ed2f.jpg

Education is an important rite of passage. That is a fact that has not, and does not, change. Whether everyone gets access to this rite of passage is another matter, but at the heart of it all what education is all about is giving people the chance to better themselves academically and intellectually. An ancient industry at this point, education has successfully seen through generation after generation of eager students while maintaining its position as a worthwhile, relevant sector. This ideology has not necessarily changed, but the world around which education is moulded has. As such, what this means is that traditional education, while still successful and influential, is not a viable form of learning that is going to be appropriate for all students. With this in mind, online courses has been developed and introduced over recent years, and while there are plenty of people who will say that online education spells the end for traditional brick and mortar academic institutions, that is simply not the case. Instead, online education provides students with certain qualities of life and access points that traditional education does not – the same can be said for what traditional education is able to provide. So, what is the difference between the two? Which is better?

The short answer is that it depends on what kind of attributes any given student responds to. There will always be those who are of the opinion that education should be kept wholly traditional, just as there will always be people who believe that education should wholeheartedly evolve to mature with the shift of the modern world. When it comes down to it, though, all that really matters is that every single individual who wants to be a student has an option before them that caters to their specific requirements and preferences. With this in mind, both traditional and modern online education have a place. The two each have their own benefits and their own downfalls, and in the end every student should do their research before picking which education format to follow through with. Since the moment that online education came to fruition, there has been debate about whether it actually offers anything of value that is not already available through traditional modes of education. They are each different, so it is only right that they each get their time to shine.

Traditional brick and mortar education systems have a leg up on the modern online learning platforms. First and foremost, they have been around a lot longer and have the established reputation of single handedly getting through generation after generation of global students into the workforce successfully. Keep in mind, however, that this achievement was made possible in a different world than the one that exists today. Traditional education provides students with a structure that appeals greatly to some individuals as students. In enrolling in traditionally-inclined institutions, students are given a set program that they must follow. Included in this program is set class times that are compulsory and non-negotiable, a set learning process, and in-person feedback and questions and answers. In short, traditional education allows students an experience that thrives and is most successful when applied wholly and with their education as their top priority. Students who opt for traditional education experiences are often and most likely to be individuals who put their academic progression first, and can fit in the rest of their lives comfortably around that.

Students that commit to their studies via online education are given an innate sense of flexibility that is not possible through traditional education. Traditional brick and mortar colleges or universities do not allow for this flexibility, but online education means that students are able to log on, study, and log out whenever they have the time to. Students are now able to study on their own terms, in their own time, without having to adhere to what is, for some, impossible geographical limitations. Individuals that would not have been able to study if they had to make the trip into campus every other day are now able to commit to an entire degree, knowing that they have the flexibility and the power to alter and shift their schoolwork in around the rest of their lives, not the other way around. When the modern student is busier than ever, this is nothing but a good thing, for the most part. As technological advancement and digitalisation increasingly changed the world, they too changed the education industry. As a result, what has occurred is a steadfast realisation that there are students that prefer the traditional education models, and there are those who prefer to opt for the modern learning methods. There is more than enough room – and demand – for both forms of education to thrive.

Throughout human history, education has successfully helped to mould generation after generation of eager young minds into intelligent, well-rounded human beings and professionals. Over time, however, the world that these students have grown up in has changed, and the generations that have followed them – and will follow them – through the education systems around the world have evolved as well. The inevitable result of this personal and societal evolution is that traditional education methods and models are no longer entirely successful; while they still appeal to some students, there are others that demand a more modern approach to learning. If the question is which form of education is better overall, then the answer is neither. However, if the question is which is better for a particular student, then it realistically comes down to the student in question. For some students, the structure and in-person approach of traditional education is perfect. For others, the flexibility and accountability of online learning is the way to go. Ultimately, both forms of education have their place – and will continue to do so – in the modern – and future – education sector.

Ads for the Millennial Mindset

Screen-shot-2017-05-12-at-9.51.01-AM.png

Advertising strategies and content changed from billboards to radio and TV. Now the Internet and smartphones in the hands of Millennials require greater change in ads

There was a time that manufacturers could say whatever they wished about their product, even if untrue, and customers believed every word. Not anymore. The Millennials generation’s plea to brands, is, “Authenticity, not advertising.”

Millennials, making up 25% of the US population, and spending $200 billion annually on products and services, are not a segment to be ignored. And they have their own views of advertising as manipulated messages geared to increasing sales. A recent survey carried out by the Illinois-based McCarthy Group, found that 84% of millennials dislike and distrust advertising. At the same time, 58% of young people will tolerate digital ads or Google Search Ads to support their favorite digital personalities. Also, according to a recent survey by the mobile advertising platform, Aki Technologies, they found that consumers respond to ads on their mobile as they watch TV and ads they see just before they go to sleep.

The perspective was different in earlier times. Americans became addicted consumers with the rise of advertising in the mid twentieth century, with annual advertising budgets increasing from $6 billion in 1950, to over $13 billion in 1963. As President of the National Broadcasting Company, Robert Sarnoff, said in 1956, “The reason we have such a high standard of living is because advertising has created an American frame of mind that makes people want more things, better things, and newer things.”

The radio, the initial TV and billboards blended into the golden era of advertising. As TV became a popular family leisure activity, advertisers used TV images to differentiate their products and to show the strength and quality of their particular products, like a Band-Aid bandage staying fixed on an egg in boiling water. In the meantime, advertising had to change strategies to encourage consumers to keep on buying when their initial demand was sated. Continuously improved products came to be advertised to create “consumption anxiety,” making people buy products that were not essentials.

As technology evolved, there has been a shift in advertising motive. Today, the focus is not selling mentality, but concepts like community-building, energy-saving and conservation and sustainability.

Furthermore, with the advent of the Internet and the ensuing ability to obtain information instantly, people were no longer enthralled by advertisements. On the contrary, they viewed advertisements with a sense of skepticism, because the exaggeration and overpromise of many ads became apparent when reality showed something different. Therefore, people started looking to other online users of the product to exchange frank and honest opinions.

With Millennials being the first “digital natives,” growing up with smartphones and the Internet, they are not gullible or ignorant, and take ad content with a pinch of salt if they do not completely reject it. Therefore, with Millennials, advertising requires a fresh and honest approach.

Nevertheless, the truth appears to be that consumers do not hate all ads. They just abhor the bad ones. About 83% of people say, “Not all ads are bad, but I want to filter out the really obnoxious ones.” Even as many people use ad blocking apps to suppress all ads, 77% of them say they would like to filter out distasteful ads rather than blocking ads completely. There are many people who have, in recent times, been introduced to products they have come to love, through appropriately placed high quality advertising.

What stands out in the advertising arena is that millennials refuse to be “talked at.” They are in the habit of being able to control the information in their daily lives, and they interact no differently with the online brands they are introduced to. They want to have control of the messaging. They want products they wish to have for the things they want to do. They will not be lured to buy a product just because it is advertised. And if they are brand loyal, such as following the brand, or liking it on social media platforms, they expect to be rewarded for it. They seek out coupons, and want to have priority in receiving product updates.

As British writer and businessman, Paul Marsden reminds, “Business is all about solving people’s problems – at a profit.” Indian author of self-help books, Siv Khera’s perception is “We don’t have business problems, we have people problems. When we take care of our people problems, most of our business problems are automatically resolved.” Founder of the Twitter app store, Oneforty, Laura Fitton, says, “Focus on the core problem your business solves and put out lots of content and enthusiasm., and ideas about how to solve that problem.”

Thus, advertising of today revolves around being honest and open about resolving consumer problems. That is the way to reach the millennial mind.

Vietnam Pushes ‘totalitarian’ Control Over Free Speech Online

4229.jpg

With a so-called cybersecurity law that took effect this year, Vietnam is increasingly censoring criticism of the communist government in an attempt to smother dissent online.

Passed in June, the law demands that service providers like Google and Facebook either take the initiative to censor “toxic information” posted by users or turn the users’ identities over to the government. Companies may also be asked to store customer data in Vietnam, which would heavily undermine users’ privacy and security. The law says little about improving cybersecurity itself.

This law affects not only journalists and members of the political opposition, but also the 64 million ordinary Vietnamese citizens who use the internet, 53 million of whom are on social media. Human Rights Watch called the law draconian, and its reporting restrictions have drawn criticism from Daniel Bastard of Reporters Without Borders, who called them “a totalitarian model of information control.”

Tightening control over internet services

Vietnam’s efforts to regulate online speech are not new; in 2013 the government banned the posting of anti-government material, and in 2016 the Ministry of Information and Communications outlined how online services had to cooperate with the Vietnamese government to take such content off their platforms.

This has helped the Vietnamese regime crack down on more online dissidents and human rights activists in recent years. According to the Diplomat, Google and Facebook in Vietnam have removed 3,367 postings containing “sensitive” content upon the request of the Vietnamese government. Facebook also removed over 600 accounts deemed as dissenters.

The new law takes this a step further, requiring digital services to set up data centers in Vietnam and to take proactive steps to censor Vietnamese citizens who are perceived to be posting “toxic,” or anti-government, content online. The biggest change in this case is that companies are now held responsible for taking content down by themselves, instead of purely reacting to government requests.

Since the law took effect, however, Facebook has found itself in hot water with the Vietnamese government, having allowed users to post critical comments on its platform. Facebook’s most recent transparency report mentions that it cooperated with two out of 12 data requests from Vietnam. The cybersecurity law is vague on how it punishes companies, which gives the government complete freedom over how much Facebook or any infringing service provider must pay.

Infringement on human rights and freedom of speech

Since the new law was passed, human rights organizations and free speech advocates have raised the alarm over laws seen as intended to incite fear and uncertainty among the masses.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, told the Guardian that the new cybersecurity law was among the first steps the Vietnamese government plans to take to “bring the internet under the same draconian controls that affect print media, TV and radio.”

Needless to say, this law will still heighten people’s ”fear about what they can say online, and uncertainty about what issues and statements will trigger arrests and prosecution.”

Pushback from the people

With surveillance and censorship both reaching China-like levels, and no guarantee that companies will keep their information secure, Vietnamese citizens have taken their data privacy and security into their own hands, using VPNs and encrypted messaging apps to secure their online activity and protect themselves from government surveillance.

While the cybersecurity law does not say much on improving the cybersecurity of its people, the introduction of this law has ironically spurred people to take their online privacy and security more seriously. As long as Vietnam blocks sites and platforms, people in Vietnam will find ways around the firewall; a significant number of internet users already know what a VPN is and have used one at least once a month.

As the Vietnamese regime insists on tightening its hold over the internet, the Vietnamese people are increasingly acting to keep their access to the internet private, secure, and free from the prying eyes of their government. But with even international internet giants now roped into complying with the government’s whims, access to the free internet will only get more difficult.