Is Web-Based Learning the College of the Future?

by Race Bannon on August 6, 2010

At the Techonomy conference taking place now in Lake Tahoe, California, that focuses on new ways to look at the economic power of innovation, Bill Gates expressed the opinion that within five years the web will provide the means by which anyone who is self-motivated will be able to attain a world-class college education. Check out Gates’ comments here. I agree with Gates wholeheartedly.

Technology is quickly democratizing education in ways we’re only just beginning to understand. For the person ready to pursue learning on their own terms, this is great news and quite exciting.

Gates also said something that I’ve been saying for a long time. No matter how you acquire your knowledge, you should get credit for it. We need to start advocating strongly for companies and educational institutions to begin accepting proof of education gained by any means whatsoever. Formal degrees and certifications should not be required to do this.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Elevic Pernis August 7, 2010 at 6:57 am

I believe that a world-class education was already available even before the Internet. The libraries provided that (cf. GOOD WILL HUNTING). The Web merely made information much easier to access. It’s just sad that not too many people take advantage of this, at least in my country.

2 Race Bannon August 7, 2010 at 11:27 am

I think you make an excellent point. Libraries are definitely under-utilized. They provide a world-class education if someone is willing to make use of the vast learning resources they provide. With that said, I think many consider the web to be our contemporary library. As books move away from the printed page and into the digital realm, which appears to be an inevitability at this point, online libraries will become more the norm than the physical brick-and-mortar versions since there’s not a compelling advantage to a physical library if virtually 100% of its contents are digital. But, the sentiment is the same. Repositories of knowledge like libraries are already available to anyone with the motivation to use them.

3 Greg Kamei August 10, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Prior to the twentieth century, artifacts of learning (i.e., books) were rather scarce; so, universities arose as repositories of learning. As you mentioned, the Internet has made learning more accessible, but they are on the same plane as less informative materials. So, critical thinking and evaluation to judge quality and useful materials is a necessary skill. It seems that the human component of mentoring and modeling is an important contribution of modern universities. Perhaps access to scholars will also increase so that future learners can be nurtured to create new works of understanding, technology, and art.

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