Education has been forever changed by the internet



A decade or so ago, most of us were just beginning our Internet journey, marveling at the ability to access all kinds of content and information at the touch of a fingertip. The possibility for learning and knowledge access seemed amazing, yet still somewhat intangible. That all changed in 2001, when MIT announced that it would make course materials for ALL its courses available online free, to anyone who wanted to access it, through its Open Courseware program.

It seemed like a crazy-genius move at the time, with the ramifications of the action unknown. What happened was this: learning began a new revolution, with more people being able to access educational material that was unavailable to them before. People who wanted educational improvement but who couldn’t (or wouldn’t) pay for it suddenly had the ability to improve their lives with the gift of knowledge. But they weren’t the only ones who benefitted.

Enrolled students suddenly had a treasure trove of course material available to them at the drop of a hat (or the click of a mouse). No more waiting for an appointment during the dreaded office hours, or on an e-mail that might or might not be in your .edu mail account as quickly as you needed it (back then, not everyone used e-mail on a consistent basis – hard to believe, isn’t it?). From students seeking graduate degrees to high school (and younger) students seeking additional information or source material, it was suddenly all there. But that was just the beginning.

Guess who Hopped on the Internet Education Train? Everyone.

After that bold move by MIT, more top-tier schools began creating online academic course material online for whoever wanted to access it. From Berkeley to Harvard and Yale, schools across the country and around the world began making educational material available to anyone who wanted to utilize it. Now, ten years later, changes keep coming, with new innovations happening and growth of numerous educational online formats continuing. 2012 promises to keep the changes coming, with the growth of accredited free online degree programs growing at an astonishing rate.

Here are some of the biggest “revolutionaries” that are changing the way education is being received around the world, according to a report on The Next Web:

  • Open Culture: an enormous database of educational and cultural media available on just about every subject known to man.
  • Khan Academy: 2,100 (and counting) online educational videos for students ranging from pre-kindergarten to graduate school, produced by the Academy.
  • Academic Earth: An online aggregation of educational videos, compiled from a variety of educational venues.
  • Skillshare: Rather than focus on strictly academic learning, Skillshare focuses on particular skill sets, with lessons being taught by entrepreneurs and professionals in just about any imaginable field of business.
  • Skype in the Classroom: Developed to help teachers collaborate on lessons, planning, and resources, it also allows children from around the world to connect with one another for learning.

With the Internet constantly developing and technology breakthroughs continuing at a rapid pace, the next decade will probably see even more educational changes related to technology than the last.