Education in the network era
In the information, as opposed to the agriculture or industrial, economy, … people prosper less according to what they have in their hands or bank accounts, and more according to what they can do with their minds. … Education is just about the most important job a community can do.
(Esther Dyson, Release 2.0)
In the last decade, the widespread introduction of personal computers led to their use in training. As computers became more powerful, sophisticated multimedia computer based training allowed learners the freedom to work on their own, much as they might with a traditional correspondence course. However, this form of training isolates students in that there are usually no support mechanisms in the form of an instructor or fellow students to turn to with questions or to discuss issues.
The training and education requirement today has changed radically from the past, in particular because of:
- Increasing training costs
- The need for continuous reskilling
- Shorter product life-cycles
Education is a broad term. We can try to define it on the basis of three primary processes of an educational institution
- Teaching & Training & Coaching – disseminating general knowledge and skills, one-way or two-ways communication with learners
- Consulting – concrete problems solution, applying theoretical background into practice
- Publishing – bringing new ideas, enriching the content, resp. know-how fund, communicating with other colleagues
E-education in the E-commerce context
If we think of E-commerce and network digital economy as trends that will affect almost every area of our work and life, consider education in this line too. In the world, where the king is information value, continuous learning and reskilling will be necessary. The classical way of attending classrooms will have to be replaced or combined with distance education. Let´s look at several reasons why no business should forget the online form
- education is one of three basic presumption for a mass E-commerce market (with demonopolized telecom infrastructure and legal environment)
- education is also a new approach to current or potential customer support
- knowledge market will be led by those who succeed to explain the principles and benefits of their products and services and who succeed to teach their clients how to exploit their competitive advantage
Internet or generally public information network brings to the side of supply an effective tool for educating the customers and to the side of demand a chance to decide more by real information rather than by advertisment slogans. Moreover intranet or other form of corporate information system is a suitable tool for an organization to provide employees with cheap and efficient education and to maintain corporate know-how.
Changing universities´ role
Schools have to prepare for a fundamental change of their society role. Regarding IT development they can not compete as encyclopedic information sources anymore. Their unsubstitutability is especially in performing as training and live communication centers, in providing space for such activities that can not be virtually.
What the Czech educational system is missing on the way to information society is well described in Agenda 2000 by Eropean Comission :
- diversification of financing of higher education institutions
- diversification of higher education supply (private education, life-long learning, etc.)
- development of the non-university sector
- integration of research and education
- development of new curricula in key areas to increase awareness on EU issues (e.g. European Studies)
- accreditation and quality evaluation
What can E-education bring
- open access, improved quality and reduced costs
- shift the style from a didactic to a more project oriented work
- enabling new kinds of learning (Internet as an interactive media and as a new education tool)
- learning process individualization (approaching the ideal one-to-one teaching with individual studying plan)
Cost needed to start online courses usually include
- concept and concrete educational services forms (orgware, software, data)
- technology (hardware, software)
- content creation and maintanance (data)
- operational support – technical and communicative (people)
Next to advantages in operating online courses you need to take into account higher investment necessary for primary building a course and potential market size limited by the language barrier.
The probability of effective learning outcomes can be improved by designing with the following ACCEL model that builds on learning principles and learner characteristics:
- Active – Learners participate in a learning program that requires thoughtful and engaged activity
- Collaborative – Learners engage in discussions, activities and projects with fellow students
- Customized and accessible – The learning program is designed to fit the needs and requirements of students in terms of time, career goals, levels of preparation, and learning styles
- Excellent quality. Courses are designed with a learner focus, enabling learners to achieve desired goals and objectives. This learning generally includes communication with faculty members and other students, and it includes quick and easy access to high-quality instructional resources.
- Lifestyle-fitted. Interactive distance learning accommodates the lives of students, affording cost-effective educational opportunities anywhere, anytime, and at a reasonable speed
- The Teaching Web: A Guide to the World Wide Web for all Teachers (Ron Owsten)
- Web Based Training White Paper (WBT)
- Agenda 2000, European Comission Opinion on the Czech Republic´s Application for Membership of the EU
- Learning in the Information Society, Action plan for a European education initiative
- Distance Learning Online: A Faculty FAQ (Microsoft)
- Free Education on the Internet
- Vzdělávání v prostředí globálních informačních sítí (Prague Internet World 98, Veselý V.)
- Vzdělávání v informační společnosti (Rufis 97, Peterka J.)
- Internet Communication Business Strategy (Veselý V.)
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