There was a time when the basic needs of human beings were only food, clothing and shelter. With the rise of the industrial age, education was added as one of their basic needs. And now education is one of the major industries of the world, producing graduates to manage and run the economy, politics, and the transmission of culture. But with the information age gaining more and more ground in our society, we are seeing conflicting trends in the educational system.
The first conflicting trend is in the area of cost. While the cost of formal education in colleges and universities is rising, the cost of education through the Internet is getting lower and lower. In many countries the observation of educational managers is that educational cost is rising higher than the inflation rate of a country. And yet getting information which is the raw data of education is becoming cheaper and cheaper through the Internet. Students can connect cheaply to the Internet through Internet cafes and access information that before would cost them much. They can now download ebooks, many of which are free.
In the Website Personal Money Store an article is written about Academic Earth. It says that while Academic Earth is not an organization that can provide a learner with college credit, it can give him or her nearly all the same material he or she could receive in a traditional college classroom, at a time when he or she wants it, without the hassle of transportation and dress expenses. There is an advertisement in this Website of "Great College Lectures, for FREE."
The second conflicting trend I see is in the area of methodology. With more information to digest and more books to read students are getting more and more burdened with reading, memorizing and comprehending the content of the books and lectures of professors. And yet on the other hand there are so many individuals and groups trying to make learning fun and enjoyable, not a burdensome experience.
In the Website DNA Read the World there is an article entitled "New trends in teaching that make learning fun." In this article we read, "To make students enjoy and understand at the same time is the key principle on which education institutions should work on." There are also online experiments with mnemonics to make memorization fun.
The third conflicting trend is in the area of results. Almost everywhere in countries with Western kind of education the complaint has been that the educational system produces unemployed or underemployed graduates. There is no assurance that upon graduation employment is there. And yet jobs are being generated through the Internet. Some get jobs by writing reviews of books, of programs, by creating websites, by programming, etc., not to mention the many scams online.
The Website Engines for Education is trying "to raise consciousness about the changes needed in our educational system." Hopefully these changes will also solve the problem of unemployment or underemployment of our college graduates.
What do these conflicting trends tell us? It seems that the following trends are possible.
As the cost of formal education goes higher and higher and the cost of non-formal education through the Web goes lower and lower, only the wealthy will be able to access formal education while the not so wealthy will be content with non-formal education through the Web.
As the process of education becomes more and more burdensome to students more and more educational games will be put on the web where the students will be spending more and more of their time. There are already indications that students cut their classes in order to spend their time playing games in Internet cafes.
As more and more unemployed and underemployed are produced by our formal system of education, more and more jobs will be created through the Web.
The changes in the educational area are not so clear at the present time but it seems clear that there are indications of substantial changes in the near future.