The internet affects almost all aspects of our daily lives, including the processes of learning and teaching. Some people try to downplay its influence on our education, but we want to argue that the impact is nothing short of profound. In fact, a strong case could be made that surge in digital education represents the real revolution in the way we pursue, pass on, and evaluate knowledge: The transformative power of the internet has given rise to the more interactive, flexible and diverse educational landscape.

A seismic shift

One of the most remarkable developments is the shift of power from institutions to students. They have never had more options, sources, and resources available to them. More importantly, they can bypass the institutions and access them directly. That is why learning methods of today are more individual and independent than traditional and collective.

Classroom settings still form the backbone of educational systems, but digital environments are more and more common. Namely, students have a chance to learn from the comfort of their homes or any place of their choosing. What is more, there are many ways to learn for free. It is as clear as a day that the generations of digital natives have embraced these winds of change. After all, they resonate with their experiences and preferences.

When faced with a certain problem, their first instinct is to “ask” Google or Wikipedia for help. They are also well aware of a plethora of lessons, video tutorials, online books, and other resources. It is possible to hire a tuition teacher online in an instant or solve a complex math problem. Moreover, students eagerly interact and share knowledge with each other through online communication channels such as social networks and messaging apps.

Twists and turns of online transition

But, could the same be said for the other, institutional dimension? Well, the truth is that many institutions struggle to adapt and overcome growing pains. According to recent studies, the majority of universities are still unable to meet the needs of online education. Nevertheless, the internet technology is here to stay and rock the world of education.  Just take a look at domain lists and try to calculate all those ending with .edu.

It should be mentioned that the term e-learning is not new, as it was coined in 1999, at an educational seminar. However, even ten years before that, some institutions like the University of Phoenix had started offering online courses. Nowadays, this university is the largest in the U.S, with more than 500,000 students. Thus, it does not come as a surprise that there are more than 3 million online-only students across the country.

A classroom in your pocket

A truly pivotal moment came in 2004, when Salman Khan began recording instructional videos and posting them on YouTube. The rising popularity of his content has prompted him to establish the famous Khan Academy. With the help of grants from the likes of Google, he has managed to produce more than 2,000 videos and attract millions of viewers.

The so-called Khan model of education allows students to learn at their own pace and in their own time. It has opened up the whole spectrum of possibilities. As a result, the educational methods are becoming more flexible and we are moving away from rigid one-size-fits-all solutions and models that forced each and every student to go through the same mold.

The same rules apply

Other reputable organizations such as Open University, the biggest of its kind in the UK, provide the bulk of its courses online. On the other hand, The London School of Business and Finance launched a Global M.B.A. program that is delivered completely through a Facebook app. This is just the tip of the iceberg: It is estimated that half of all college students take at least one class online.

In the sector of public higher learning, experts predict that by 2019, 50% of all classes will be delivered via the internet. Online videos are particularly popular and professors and teachers see it as a highly effective and engaging teaching tool. Still, face-to-face instruction and traditional learning model are not rendered obsolete. The internet is not here to replace them, but complement and enrich them.

Two sides of the same coin

Technology is advancing by leaps and bounds and we are constantly breaking new ground with new educational practices. Thanks to the internet boom, students wield considerable power when it comes to their education, which is more accessible and diverse than ever before. The use of online teaching and learning is growing at a breakneck speed and online education has evolved into an industry worth billions of dollars. At the same time, both teachers and students can achieve their goals respectable without spending a dime.