“In five years the best education will come from the Web.” This is a very broad statement which has some truth in it. Content online will continue to improve. But will the best education experience be online within five years? I have my doubts there. First of all, Mr. Gates did correctly identify that he is talking about post-secondary and not K-12. For kids that are being home schooled, the Internet and the online tools are a God send. It will improve their education.
There are a number of post-secondary schools that are going more and more online or are already virtual. Does this mean the experience is better than place-based learning? Well, as Mr. Gates’ statement suggest, he thinks it will. Personally, I think it depends on the person and also what they are studying. I have a hard time believing taking part in a “canned” online course will be better than a well delivered place-based learning activity. It’s very easy to say that not all professor’s know how to teach. True, but I think it’s also safe to say that not all online courses are well designed. When you compare a good online learning experience to a good classroom professor, I think the professor will give you the better education experience. Personally, I’ve never hear anyone applaud after they finished an online activity. I’ve heard applauds in the class though.
Saying that online will be better than the classroom experience would also have to assume faculty won’t change what they do in class and won’t attempt to improve how they teach/facilitate. With better online content you’ll see more of that content coming into the classroom and the professor facilitate the learning using these tools.
There is so much more that could be added here. I’ll look to rant on this later. Just remember, the guy that said “In five years the best education will come from the Web” is the same guy that thought 640K of RAM would be enough for anyone.
(you can follow Phil on Twitter @CanadianPacMan)