Last updated: 09.05.12

E-learning 'could change the world'

Online learning has the potential to change the world.

This is according to David Brooks, op-ed columnist for the New York Times, who wrote in the publication that virtual learning environments give students "access to the world's best teachers".

He pointed to the recent edX e-learning platforms launched by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard, claiming other prestigious establishments - such as Carnagie Mellon and Yale - are similarly "moving aggressively online".

EdX enables millions of men and women from across the globe to be able to access online courses for free.

Furthermore, the universities will utilise the system to discover how people learn and what innovations can assist in academia.

"EdX is designed to improve, not replace, the campus experience," MIT president Susan Hockfield said.

In the future, this development could enable "star professors" to deliver lectures to millions of individuals and might extend the influence of American universities throughout the globe, Mr Brooks stated.

"Online learning seems especially useful in language and remedial education," the specialist declared.

He suggested using a virtual platform to assist in academia makes it simple to tailor a course to the preferences and pace of a specific student.

In the future of e-learning, a local educator could select a certain reading material from a range of different lecturers, who would be able to provide a wide array of perspectives about a particular matter from countries across the globe.

Mr Brooks predicted this would result in the district's professor conversing and tutoring students regularly but lecturing them less.

Furthermore, he pointed to Harvard Business School's Clayton Christensen, who has argued online training would make it "easier to break academic silos", allowing teachers to combine literature and history or chemistry and calculus within a single e-learning course.

The internet will make it possible for "the most committed schools and students to be better than ever", the columnist remarked.