The possibilities for Americans to take advantage of online education are expanding rapidly. Before broadband had really taken hold, distance learning was limited to prearranged classes, perhaps video- enabled by satellite. Only a small minority of people could pay the high price for this arrangement.
That has all changed with the huge increase in availability of broadband. Now all types of educational experiences can be accessed. These include opportunities such as distance learning through colleges, online tutoring, homework help through libraries and schools, resume writing help, study groups and many other options.
These online educational experiences can take place in any geographical area and in venues such as homes, libraries, schools or coffee shops. Students can move from their virtual classrooms to other places such as museums, other classrooms or outdoors to view and discuss scenes or objects.
Statistics show that online distance learning for degrees and continuing education is growing in popularity, as well as tutoring on the internet. One challenge that needs to be addressed is the fact that low income families, who could definitely benefit from online educational opportunities, are unable to afford the cost of broadband internet.
1. Online distance learning:
Most colleges and community colleges offer a variety of online courses to all levels of students. Participants can choose the time and location of their classes – it could be half way across the country. Special online universities offer degree programs in the undergraduate and graduate levels. Online trade instruction of all types, from locksmith training to plumbing courses, is available. Online is an ideal place to take computer courses. If you have limited time, you can pace yourself when taking courses. Options include talking with your instructor by VoIP or meeting in small groups for discussions on video.
2. Educational resources:
Through the miracle of broadband networks, you have access to libraries everywhere in the world and government resources that give accurate information on a multitude of subjects.
3. Academic tutoring:
Online tutoring sites are cropping up on the internet all the time. There are sites for K-12, college students and adult continuation courses. Software providing white board technology is instrumental in providing interaction between student and tutor or teacher. Use of technology that completes the virtual classroom with audio and video is a great innovation to add to online classrooms. Courses that teach the basics of the trades can use audio and video to great advantage in showing step-by-step instruction.
Broadband expansion has provided a way for students to get homework help online through libraries and schools. Students can download their term papers, have a tutor read it and then offer suggestions. It is then returned to the student by email.
Online distance learning has experienced a real expansion in recent years due to advances in the broadband and the networks. It is providing more and more people with an opportunity to achieve their educational goals in a convenient way and at a reasonable cost. Software programs now make it possible to go to a virtual classroom with VoIP and video. Hopefully in the near future, low-income people will be able to get access to the broadband at a cost they can afford.
Mary Smith is a teacher who has a personal interest in the way that broadband internet is affecting education for the better, and how satellite broadband means even the most remote schools can take part.