In today’s modern society, we often take for granted just how connected our world has become. Chances are you’re probably reading this from your smartphone or tablet – and although this technology is now ubiquitous, it barely existed just 15 years ago! But let’s look back even further: did you know that this year marks the 100th anniversary of commercial radio? Now, realize that the school system we still use today is 50 years older than that!
The traditional system of schooling used throughout most of the world, with students forced to gather in cramped classrooms, bright and early every morning, for communal instruction within strictly scheduled instructional periods, has remained largely unchanged for the last 150 years. In the late 1800s, newspapers were the cutting edge of information technology. Today, newspapers are struggling just to stay alive, as generations of modern technology have moved in to replace them.
The traditional school system was designed to bring students together and ensure common standards of education across a community – but we are now living in a global community. Why not embrace a learning system that celebrates, and prepares students for, our modern, internationally connected world?
Online learning platforms, such as Ontario Virtual School, offer that modern spin on this traditional goal. Here are five ways e-learning can help prepare students for life in a more connected world:
1. See Perspectives from Different Cultures
In our modern age, it has never been easier to communicate with people from all walks of life. Online learning facilitates the sharing of ideas not just between people in the same classroom, but with those from around the world. Students can be exposed to the varying perspectives of those living elsewhere, under varying conditions, within in our global community. With modern technology, these people can come together and learn how things work in different countries. They can see how their perspectives are different, as well as where they have common ground, and reach deeper understandings that would have been much more difficult just a few years ago.
2. Learn Modern Technical Skills
Modern technology brings many new opportunities, but to use those opportunities, one must understand how to use this technology. School has always taught “hidden skills.” A student writing an essay may be focusing on research or composition, but will also be practicing handwriting or typing. Online learning teaches a student “hidden skills” that are increasingly in-demand. Things as transferable as professional online communication. Skills as concrete as increasing technological literacy. Modern employers increasingly demand these types of skills, and online learning provides them.
3. Learn How to Communicate with an International Audience
With access to people all over the world, students have the opportunity not just to learn, but to teach, to share their perspectives with people and audiences they may otherwise have not been able to reach. But cross-cultural communication can come with difficulties beyond just the technical. Social barriers and misunderstandings can make communication difficult even between people of similar backgrounds and cultures. This is exacerbated in international communication, especially when your communications are reaching many cultures at the same time. Online learning gives students practice with speaking to international sensibilities, and breaking through cultural barriers. Online learning teaches students how to effectively communicate with the largest audience possible, an essential skill in today’s internationally connected world. A skill increasingly in-demand by employers around the world.
4. Learn Modern Research Skills
Modern students have access to the summation of human knowledge, all in the palm of their hand. However, with this can come not only a great deal of false information, but also information overload, as a researcher may not know what information to focus on. With instructors and a community of students who are inherently inclined towards understanding how to effectively use the internet, students will be better prepared to take advantage of technology, and become the most educated generation in history.
5. Learn Independent Work Habits to Keep Up with Modern and International Competition
With international connections comes international competition. Our globalized world has allowed people not just to commute around the world for employment, but to work for employers around the world from the comfort of their own homes. Much modern employment requires people who can work independently, who can form habits of responsibility that can allow them to work without the supervision of an office. The freedom to set your own schedule comes with increased responsibility to avoid procrastination. Freedom to work with people in different time zones comes with increased responsibility to sometimes work with unconventional schedules. Increased access to information comes with increased responsibility to research the best information. Increased reach to international audiences comes with increased responsibility to understand these audiences. Online learning naturally teaches these habits, in the regular course of teaching typical school subjects.
Our traditional schools were designed around the challenges of the 19th century. But with how increasingly connected we are becoming in the 21st century, students are facing many new challenges, as well as many new opportunities. Online learning platforms, such as Ontario Virtual School, utilize the advantages of modern society to better prepare students for what they are facing right now, and what they will continue to face in the future. This makes online learning an essential opportunity that should be considered by any modern student.