Online education is a new system that slowly replaces the traditional education, which is currently at the fade stage, i.e. the system exhausts the possibilities of further significant improvement. The educational architecture is being transformed, and the core of this new structure will be represented by the individual development trajectory, which may become the “education & career track” that accompanies everyone through their entire lives (Figure 4. Learner’s Path in 2030 Education (Demand Side).
Figure 4. Learner’s Path in 2030 Education (Demand Side).
According to the Global Education Futures the new educational model will sustain and succeed only if it will be supported by a group of inter-dependent technological solutions. These solutions will have all functionalities of the traditional “industrial” education, yet will be cheaper and more efficient. The core of this new infrastructure will have to have four main elements (Figure 5. Learner’s Tech Environment in 2030 Education (Supply Side)):
- Educational trajectory management interface (a system that will allow students to set their goals (educational and career), to create or modify their planned educational programs, and to track their progress)
- Libraries/Search engines that allow to choose specific online courses or entire programs
- Assessment and certification systems that will allow students to receive external confirmation of knowledge, skills, and abilities
- Achievement recording tools, e.g. integrated electronic portfolio, online competency passport including real-time performance recording, etc.
Figure 5. Learner’s Tech Environment in 2030 Education (Supply Side).
Moreover, new online-educational system must have and use new financial products that will be a key to the formation of the new system. Therefore, in addition to the traditional models of financing, we should expect an emergence of such forms of financing forms/financial instruments as:
i. Direct “talent investment” – the investment made directly into a student. For this to be transparent and manageable, both the process and the outcomes of education must be
documentable and measurable. Therefore, the following products will emerge:
a. Competence passports
b. Analysis of the contribution of specific educational products to the development of skills & competencies
c. Educational trajectory as a program designed to increase the probability of successful investment
d. Transition to integrated “education & career” trajectories
ii. The insurance model based on the assumption that “being competent” is similar to “being healthy” (competence implying sufficient knowledge and adaptability in the society, including competitive employability).
iii. “Mutual benefit society”, a model that can be developed in the context of ‘horizontal’ education, when communities of practice create mutual funds to order educational services that match current needs of their members.
iv. “Educational casino”, in which an additional monetary incentive is created for students through betting on their ability to study a subject or form a skill.
v. The reputational capital exchange model, in which reputation becomes an indicator of accumulated personal skills and traits, and it can be spent to develop additional skills through exchange with their possessors.
Today, the major factors supporting the emergence of online education are:
- Constantly decreasing prices (compared to traditional education) (Figure 6. Fundamental Graph for Replacing ‘Old’ Education with ‘New’ Education),
- Ability of online education to benefit from both the economic expansion (due to the flow of new investments stimulating the development of industry), and recession (due to the shifting demand from traditional education to online education due to the drop of population’s income, but still existent need to stay competitive in the job market)
- Change of generations (and therefore increasing number of those who support the online education)
- Inability of traditional educational institutions to adapt to the new reality (according to Bain & Company)
However, this system will sustain only if it will overcome the barriers on its way that The Boston Consulting Group described as:
- Insufficient reputation among some students and their parents
- Insufficient regulation and accreditation of online-educational degrees
- Perception of some students that online education is a lower quality compared to traditional programs
- Lack of proper experience (interaction with the instructor and other students), and therefore lack of networking
However, the last problem is already on its way to being solved as we see an emergence of online communities where students engage, interact with each other and network, like: Project Firefly – merit based; Evisors – fee-based career advisor network; WSO – forum-based networking.
Figure 6. Fundamental Graph for Replacing ‘Old’ Education with ‘New’ Education.
- Ambient Insight. (01/2015). 2015 Learning Technology Research Taxonomy.
- Global Education Futures. (2013). Global Education Futures Agenda.
- Jeff Denneen (Bain & Company). (29/10/2014). Why many universities will fail in online education.
- The Boston Consulting Group. (02/10/2014). Online Education Has Reached the Mainstream
- Global Education Futures. (2013). Global Education Futures Agenda. Retrieved from: http://edu2035.org/pdf/GEF.Agenda_eng.pdf
Figure 4 – Global Education Futures. (2013). Global Education Futures Agenda (page 38);
Figure 5 – Global Education Futures. (2013). Global Education Futures Agenda (page 40);
Figure 6 – Global Education Futures. (2013). Global Education Futures Agenda (page 47).
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