How new technology is paving the way for greater learning

It’s the year 2015. We have the ability to prevent deadly viruses like Ebola through vaccination, cars can now drive themselves and we have seen to the farthest reaches of our solar system - taking in the view of Pluto for the first time in its true form. 

Yet, for all our victories as a civilization, there is one very important thing we neglect along with so many others: education.

Education is still, in so many places, very far behind where it should be. In developed countries like the US, less than 50 per cent of the population’s twenty-five year olds (or above) hold a two-year degree. Lower still at only thirty-four percent, is the number of people who hold a four-year degree which most employers take in to higher consideration when selecting candidates for jobs. 

Image credit: Andrew Youngs

So, what is the impeding factor preventing so many people from getting this expected education? Money, of course. Yes, money. Yet the cost of education continues to rise. As an example, the average cost of in-state tuition in the United States now rests at over seventy-five thousand dollars (USD). Other places in the world are far less fortunate where education is sparsely or not available in any form tertiary or otherwise.

It is not to fret though, this disparaging situation is one that can be remedied by modern web technologies online, or offline. Now you might be thinking to yourself "They’re called web technologies, doesn’t that imply they are meant to be used online?" Not necessarily technologies like Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and Javascript which form the faces of the many websites you visit today can be used online, or offline all they require is a web browser to take advantage of.

Read: Why it’s time to say goodbye to the MBA

Now picture your favorite website and imagine you could download that to a thumb drive or to your smartphone so you could take it wherever you go. Now, apply that to a web technology based learning solution that provides access to an eBook, lessons, exams, and homework using those same web technologies I talked about. Tertiary institutions around the world are already settled in to platforms like Blackboard which is a technology that rarely changes form and has a limited purpose often leading to institutions require their students purchase extras like licenses to software for lessons and materials when students wallets are in many cases already running on empty.

Take a step forward, imagine a system previously described did exist and then picture the stacks of textbooks required for your education.

Next, look at your smartphone and see how much storage space it has. There’s no possible way all those books can fit on there, can it? Of course it can, most smartphones have at least 16 gigabytes (GB) which is around 70 times the size of the largest eBook on average. Webpages, measure considerably smaller still in the kilobytes (KB) which is one of the smallest computer measurements.

So by developing the proper medium and materials we could fit an entire education on to a smartphone, tablet, computer, thumb drive, or it can be delivered through the to anyone in the world whether in home or classroom. Now, given that, who couldn’t we bring an education to? If you could set up even one computer or one tablet in a disenfranchised community anywhere in the world and load it with academic text, lessons, etc delivered through a single platform the next big accomplishment could spring forth from there when the proper tools are presented or opportunity may be given to someone to provide for their family and community whereas before they lacked the academic knowledge to properly do so. In doing so, we could easily see communities across the globe reach a literacy and education rate of one hundred percent.

Read: What teachers can learn from kids who don’t hand their homework in on time

The future of our world, regardless of individual background rests in mobile and web technologies which can be so easily distributed. So isn’t it about time we got behind it and brought the issue of education in to the spotlight? Historically, the greatest of inventions have been derived from the greatest of needs all made possible by the education to see them from imagination to reality. So when you can, stop, take the time to talk to professors and software professionals about how they can contribute to global academia and maybe together we can change the way people learn.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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