From correspondence courses and distance learning courses to internet education and e-courses, a revolution is brewing in the education system worldwide.
Today, the vast number of people opting for online study and online education not only consists of students but also professionals, who wish to upgrade their skills.
These lifelong learners don’t have the time or resources to do a formal degree in their subjects of interest. As a result, the demand for internet learning and online certificate courses has skyrocketed.
Online surveys reveal that the market for e-learning courses in India, which was valued at $247 million in 2016, is set to witness massive growth to $1.96 billion by 2021. The number of students opting for online education is also expected to grow from 1.6 million in 2016 to 9.6 million by 2021, a whopping 44% increase.
This clearly shows the preference of students for internet learning over traditional distance learning courses. What’s the reason for this preference?
To know that, you need to have a clear idea about the terms – correspondence courses, distance learning, online education and internet learning – that are often used interchangeably. Are they the same? No, they aren’t!
What Are Correspondence Courses?
Correspondence courses were a form of distance learning education system that has its origins in 19th century UK.
In the latter half of the century, the educational system in the USA followed in their footsteps and started offering distance education degrees to students before it spread to other countries across the world.
Correspondence courses offered home study materials through postal services that were later replaced by email. The courses mainly included vocational subjects like horology, gemology, floristry, camera repair and other subjects.
Earlier, only a few accredited distance learning institutions offered correspondence courses to people who weren’t in a condition to attend regular classes.
Today, correspondence courses are dying out and are only preferred by students in remote places who rely on the traditional system of education to get their degrees.
What Is Distance Learning?
Distance learning is a type of education that aims to train interested individuals to upgrade their skills without attending a regular classroom.
Both correspondence courses and e-courses fall under the category of distance learning education, which invalidates the necessity of real-time classrooms by providing everyone with a chance to learn across geographical barriers. As more distance learning centres emerged, both the range of courses and their availability increased.
At present, there are hundreds of distance learning universities in India alone, where you can find a vast number of courses ranging from computer and mass communication to distance learning master degree courses and PhD courses.
Although distance learning started with print-based learning and textbooks with occasional classes that students were expected to attend in person, the emergence of the internet initiated a completely different mode of education through e-learning courses.
Although there are many distance learning colleges offering distance education courses, their importance has greatly reduced because of the easy availability of online courses.
Now that you understand what each term stands for, let’s discuss how the traditional education system in India has evolved in recent years.
What Is Online Education?
Referred to with terms such as online training, e-learning, e-courses and m-learning (mobile learning), online education encompasses anything that depends on the internet to train students and professionals in a virtual classroom environment.
With the growth of the internet and its widespread popularity, traditional distance education has switched over to the electronic medium. Today, online education is the preferred mode of distance learning for most people because of the convenience it offers.
This has greatly improved the interaction between teachers and students besides providing advanced study materials in the form of audio-visual lessons, instructional guides, video conferences, live chats, animations and more.
How Online Education Is Reshaping India’s Future
With widespread digitisation, millions of Indians now have access to the internet in every nook and corner of the nation.
High-speed internet services, cost-effective Smartphones and tablets and greater awareness are three main reasons for people preferring online education over the traditional methods of learning.
Further, the availability of a wide range of online diploma courses ranging from online journalism courses to online MBA courses has made it easier for working professionals to upgrade their skills without leaving their current jobs.
According to a KPMG report, students are also opting for the best internet learning platforms to prepare for competitive exams like JEE Main, NEET, CLAT, CAT and Bank PO. This trend of preferring online platforms over offline coaching centres is expected to witness a 64% growth by 2021.
Key players in the industry are utilising this trend to develop exam-specific mobile applications for the students, mostly hailing from remote areas, where a dearth of proper learning facilities is increasing their dependence on e-learning courses.
As a result, the number of online schools is growing and the trend of online study and exam preparation is getting more popular day by day.
E-Courses Are Becoming The Preferred Mode Of Learning
The availability of e-courses or short online courses has made it easier for students and working professionals to upgrade their skills and grow in their careers.
Those who want to get in-depth knowledge of a subject can opt for online certifications from accredited online universities like Learning Cloud online courses, Masterclass, and Udemy that offer expert courses on every imaginable topic.
Today, many of the distance learning universities in India also offer such short-term online MBA courses, writing courses and even online courses for teachers, to give a fair chance to everyone interested in upgrading their skills or changing their career.
After all, why shouldn’t you be able to study from the comfort of home without wasting time and money commuting? This idea is creating a revolution in the field of education in India and worldwide.
In addition, the traditional education system fails to serve many students including those who are autistic, disabled or diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, because they are unable to conform to the (often unrealistic) expectations of educational institutions.
Online Education Courses Are Disrupting Traditional Education
So, is the traditional system dead? Not yet! But it is being rapidly disrupted by internet education and e-courses. As more people take to online education, the traditional education system will slowly lose its importance.
YouTube has already made free education and tutorials on every topic available for anyone in the world keen on learning the basics of any topic under the sun.
There are Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) or free training courses online from some of the best educational institutions.
These MOOCs are helping students learn new skills for career development, changing careers, college preparations, supplemental learning, lifelong learning, corporate e-Learning and training.
Perhaps 30 years from now, students will mostly be seen on and around the campus, sitting with their laptops and attending e-classes, than actually spending time in classrooms.
Libraries won’t provide hard copies of books anymore, and most books will be digitized and available to read on any device, read aloud as audiobooks or available on YouTube as videos. Print books will become antiques and be stored away safely.
And who knows what the future of learning holds? With scientists making Matrix-style learning a possibility, we may soon be able to feed information directly into a person’s brain and teach them new skills in a shorter amount of time.
There’s no arguing that, with the pace at which technology is advancing, e-learning and e-courses are the future of education. It will be a massive wake-up call for those who believe that getting a degree from an elite university is the way to success.
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