Access to information in the internet age is so easy that no longer does one have to go to libraries, refer to journals or encyclopedias, or undertake research in the conventional sense.
The answers are there at the touch of a screen.
MOOCS, and the fascination with on-line education is as a result of the pervasiveness of the internet and its influence on our life- a convenience that we no longer can reverse, nor would we wish to do so.
But what does this mean for education as we know it?
Conventional education meant going to school, then college and thereafter university or TAFE if one so desired and learning through classes where the font of knowledge was in the teacher, the professor or other learned person.
Studies and education involved attending classes and being examined to determine ones comprehension of the subject as also the awarding of a qualification to show to the outside world, that one has mastered the particular art or science as the case may be.
The internet has now taken the place (or is systematically taking the place) of these learned persons and one can only ponder the ramifications of this with respect to education.
The crux of the issue is accessing information as against assimilation and comprehension of information. Is access to information the basis of education or is the assimilation and testing of comprehension a fundamental aspect of education?
Is the ability to discern the authenticity of the information and its appropriateness a new requirement in the internet age?
Traditionally, the learned person reviewed the performance and assimilation of knowledge, and peer reviewed articles brought credence to publications and research papers.
In the internet age, will the discussion groups and special topic groups be the new peer review system?
Where learning is via the internet, who will be the new assessor and award the qualification? Is there a need for qualifications in the internet era?
The answers to these questions will progressively emerge over the next decade as industry too will have to decide how it will assess abilities and capabilities of “students in the internet age”.
Will we see the demise of qualifications and a new empowered self taught individual?
I reckon we will.