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Can the Internet Replace School?

Are Online Schools Appropriate for Students with Learning Disabilities?

By Rachel Glover

Updated June 30, 2013

Technology is impacting almost every sector of society and industry, from auto-piloted cars to online shopping. Perhaps the next big institution to be profoundly changed by the internet will be education and the school system.

While the internet has become an essential resource for information, bricks-and-mortar schools have remained the main source of education. That may be changing, though, as educators are putting down the chalk and picking up the mouse.

Online Courses

It may not come as a surprise that universities are taking advantage of the effectiveness of online teaching. Classes that previously required a large lecture hall can now need nothing more than a computer and a microphone.

For certain courses, ones that are predominantly lecture or chalkboard focused, this can be an even better arrangement as students can see all the information on their computer monitors instead of squinting from the back row of the classroom.

The cost-effectiveness for both parties is a big benefit of online teaching. Universities no longer need large lecture halls or equipment such as projectors and computers for each room. The students also benefit as they no longer have to travel to and from class, they can watch previous sessions they might have missed and they can learn from the comfort of their own homes.

Another benefit of online courses is that they allow for long-distance learning. Location is no longer a factor as these courses are available to anyone that is enrolled in that university, even if they are not on campus. The fact that universities all around the world are giving credibility to the effectiveness of online teaching opens the door to an overhaul of the traditional institution of education.

Distance-Learning Universities

In a busy world, some people may feel they do not have enough time for higher education as traditionally it requires a large amount of time and dedication. Those who do not live near a university might not be able to travel back and forth to classes if they have a job or a family to support.

This has spurred the increase in the number of distance-learning universities in the UK as well as all around the world. These universities use a variety of technologies to provide high-quality education to their students. These can range from online courses to audio or video recordings, DVDs and other means. Students are supported by tutors via telephone, face-to-face or on the internet.

The degrees earned at these universities are just as credible as those from traditional universities and many notable academics have graduated from these types of universities.

Instant Research

There is no doubt that the internet is an essential tool in finding information. This has never been truer than when trying to find primary and secondary sources, such as documents or journal articles. Before the internet, the only means of obtaining these was delving into the local library and scouring the card catalog in the hope that they had what you needed.

Now there are online databases full of authentic source material, some of which would be impossible to obtain otherwise. Most universities have free access to databases such as these, while many governments and historical societies also provide them to the public.

Free Education

The amount of information available on the internet is staggering and it is no secret that if you want to learn something, all you need to do is search for it online. Some people are taking this a step forward and more traditional educational courses are appearing online for anyone interested. Academics, teachers and other professionals are breaking away from the formal institutions and creating educational videos available to anyone willing to watch.

The subjects range from algebra to aeronautical engineering and millions of eager minds are tuning in regularly for more. Perhaps this is the true face of what the future holds for education. The ability of educators to reach those yearning for education is now greater than ever and there is no longer a limit on how many people can be taught at the same time. These videos remain available online forever, allowing new students to view them whenever they want and review them as needed.

Never before has such high-quality education been made available for so many at little or no cost. While the internet has not replaced schools yet, the possibility does not seem unbelievable. Technology plays a growing role in all levels of education and an increasing number of people are choosing online forms of education over traditional classrooms each year.

Some would argue that online courses are more productive, comfortable and efficient than their bricks-and-mortar competition. The presentation of material is what matters and if that can be accomplished just as effectively online then it is hard to make an argument for traditional schools.

This guest post was contributed by Rachel Glover who writes about technology for Conosco; a London-based IT company.

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