Daily I witness the development of media, technology and information. In moment of serenity like this, I often think of my parents and their generation, who had to adapt to the new (context) faster than they were able to assimilate the (content). Keeping pace with advancements is difficult. It is certainly very challenging for those who lead these advancements and make them accessible to the public. Let’s take education for a stance.

Although distance learning presumably originated in London in the 19th century, concepts such as online education and distance learning were a mere novelty to me just ten years ago. I recall hearing someone telling me he is enrolled in a distance-learning master program in Germany and I sighed in disbelief that such an approach could lead to any…anything. Today, the demand for distance learning is on the rise and even premier schools mobilize to meet it.

Coursera, a social entrepreneurship project brings a consortium of America’s leading institutions, such (Princeton University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and University of Pennsylvania) in an initiative to offer hundreds of people access to free of charge courses brought by the world’s best.

Harvard University even goes further. The HU Extension School, distance learning students united through cyber spaces such as Second Life, a 3-D virtual environment.

Although the advantages of distance learning are obvious for all parties involved: schools get additional income with relatively less input, students can easily access educational resources despite constraints, may they be physical, socio-economical or geographical.

Nevertheless, I ponder if this all of this is enough to overlook the importance and significance of inter-personal communication or student-professor dialogue. Not so sure. What do you think?

 

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