Those of us who can remember way, way back to 1986 (those of us who were alive, that is) remember a song by a group named Timbuk3 called, “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.” The song was, sadly, a one-hit wonder for the group, and the lyrics didn’t exactly depict a “Walking on Sunshine” vibe about the world. Nevertheless, the future has turned out brighter for those of us pursuing training and education, because we can learn almost anything online. So, nyah, nyah to Timbuk3, because in 2012, we’ve gotten the last laugh.
Some education experts believe in the possibility that online education might very well endanger the existence of the bricks-and-mortar university, just like Amazon.com is slowly but surely putting bookstores large and small out of business. That might very well be the case, but for many people, the classroom experience cannot come close to the value of online education and training. Many factors contribute to that; most of all the need for convenience while we struggle to make ends meet and hang onto our jobs post-recession. The luxury of pitching one’s livelihood to return to the hallowed halls of academia just cannot be accomplished in today’s uncertain economy.
Today’s online training and degree programs manage to teach marketable skills to individuals at the fraction of the cost of a college education. Now, you can still hold down a job and not have to worry about racing to make that six-o’clock class at the local community college. Instead, you get to curl up in your bed with your laptop or tablet and do the work at your own pace.
Granted online education is still in its infancy, but it is advancing rapidly. True, this does not bode well for academia, but let’s face facts: we will always need education. Whichever form it takes is moot, so long as it is effective. Whether you’re taking a single class for personal enrichment, pursuing a degree, or increasing your skill set to get ahead in your career, online is the way to go. And yes, the future of education really is bright, thanks to some good old-fashioned technological ingenuity.
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