The power of education: Online learning

A lot of people have been writing about education lately. Is the university system failing its students? Are students failing to take the opportunities abound on their campuses? Those are important questions to be asking, but this week I’m going to write about the simple power of education. Now, I can’t take credit for this topic, because my wonderful friend and roommate Julia, an education major, has made me aware of its power as she learns about it.

Enough about the school side of education though – today I’m talking about online education. It’s amazing what you can learn online these days – you can get a college degree, learn to make an omelette, make new friends and learn about yourself – all without ever leaving your home. That’s not actually true – because the best way to add value to what you’ve learned, IMHO, is to apply it to the big beautiful world outside. But that’s just me.

The nation’s thought leaders believe in the power of online education. A recent article in Psychology Today mentions two big names – Bill Gates and Jack Welch – as proponents of online education. Gates wrote in his annual letter on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Web site, “In the United States, advances in online learning and new ways to help teachers improve will make a great education more accessible than ever.” And Welch, the renowned former CEO of General Electric, is starting his own MBA program with courses offered almost exclusively online.

So with more opportunities than ever before to cash in on the benefits of online learning – for free! – why aren’t more people doing it? University of Phoenix says many people believe it’s too late, or there’s not enough time. But if there’s time to build your personal brand online, there’s time to learn about the world, too.

Think about how much you’ve learned since you joined an online community – be it a blogging community, or a Web site to keep track of your fitness goals. What’s the best or most memorable thing you’ve learned on the Internet?

Note: This is part one of a three-part series called The power of education.

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5 responses to “The power of education: Online learning

  1. Since starting my blog (all of 2 weeks ago), I’ve learned how much I truly love writing and connecting with similarly-motivated people from all over.

    That aside, one of the coolest things I’ve found on the internet is that MIT and Stanford both post a lot of their courses – syllabus, assignments, the whole shebag – for FREE. A-ma-zing.

  2. Great post. I’ve definitely been thinking about this a lot lately, and I go back and forth. On the one hand, the access to information and knowledge on the internet is amazing and extremely useful. But I think the benefits of actually going to a class, with other people, can’t be glossed over. It will be interesting to see how education plays out in this regard.

    • I agree – I’m not a proponent of online-only education, but it is pretty amazing all the things you can learn online nowadays! The value of real, face-to-face contact will never go away, for me at least, though.

  3. Pingback: The power of education: Teacher appreciation « A Work in Progress

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