Today is Digital Learning Day. A day to discover and understand the future of digital learning, and the reason it has come to the forefront as a pressing issue in today’s society (worldwide).
Why digital learning? In a recent MOOC (Massively Online Open Classroom), Dr. Ashwin Ram went over some startling statistics on the present state of education. For instance, in India, a new university would have to be built every week in order to keep up with demand – an impossibility. The fact that we have long tied education and learning to a building will soon have to come to an end, and in certain parts of the world – it already has. The job market has been slowly transitioning to a marketplace that values skills, not degrees – as evidenced by the ‘tests’ given to applicants at the world’s top tech companies. Digital learning is not only inevitable, it also fulfills a need to expand and hone one’s skills without the restrictions of a school schedule – essential to those learning while employed.
Digital learning is not meant to replace traditional learning, but to enhance and enrich it. In today’s global world, the importance and relevance of digital communication and learning cannot be overstated. Recent world events in Egypy, Libya, and Iran have displayed the power of the internet to erase borders and the powers of open communication. Education is also moving this direction. A quick review of the massive effects felt by students during the SOPA blackout of Wikipedia gives a hint to the dependence of today’s student upon online resources. The question is not if digital learning is here to stay, but how we can use learning online to our mutual best advantage.
Digital learning also reaches those parts of our world that don’t have access to traditional education – be it due to personal resource constraints, time constraints, or the lack of resources in their community. Canada, for instance, has a high percentage of its students studying online due to the distance from traditional schools for many of its students. There is also a burgeoning ‘online school’ industry, designed to cater to the needs of students who wish to learn solely online. And as the MIT OpenCourseWare project has shown, there’s a tremendous appetite worldwide for access to resources that were once refined to a small portion of the society, at a tremendous yearly cost.
Lately there have been questions about the actual value of a college or university degree in certain circles – but we at OpenStudy feel that this questions not the importance of education, but the importance of the means of education. There are students on OpenStudy who consistently demonstrate remarkable knowledge and understanding of topics, but don’t have a traditional degree to validate this expertise. Does this make it any less valid? We feel not.
So, this Digital Learning Day, we ask that you take a look at what you believe about education, about learning, and about how online interactions connect with these concepts. Our view is digital learning is an inevitability, and the goal of all of us should be to find and develop the best tools possible to foster this movement. OpenStudy offers a free and open learning environment where students and teachers from all parts of the world come together to teach and learn in an environment that gives rewards – social recognition rewards, not degrees. And our users have demonstrated that there is value in these – take a look at some of our top users, and the respect and recognition they receive by the community.