Online Education

Torsten Jacobi pointed me to The Online Universities Weblog and a post on globalization and online education:

Right now there are around half-a-million foreign university students studying in the United States. But imagine the millions out there who would like to study in the U.S. but do not have the financial or educational means to do so, especially in places like China and India.

However, there are also questions that must be raised before a global university education system would go into effect. Are these people only to be trained in technical areas, or degrees that are functional purely for employment means. What about the benefits of a classic liberal education, as well as the social and interpersonal skills that go along with traditional education at a real university? Is the future of online education mainly to produce students who can put something together, design products, etc.? Isn’t this just a hig-tech vocational school? Today I heard a talk by the CEO of Pella Corporation, the window maker, and he mentioned that around 75% of people fail in their related fields because of lack of interpersonal and social skills. This isn’t anything that can be taught normally, but just by interacting on a personal level at a traditional university some of these skills do rub off. I often wonder about this in relation to online university education.

Secondly, if one were to educate students in India and China or elsewhere through online liberal education, the propagation of the use of English would surely continue. There are likely to be cultural gaps between what modes of governance are to be taught, the relation to the individual in society, as well as foundations of history. India and China both have thousands of years of history and culture behind them, history and culture they are proud of.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.