It must be hard to imagine being a student before the age of the internet for todays students. For those of us who studied before the 1990s, visiting the library was probably a much more regular experience. Today you can usually access most of the study materials you need online. Most colleges have an online system available to – some even deliver your book to you if you need the paper copy.
But the internet doesn’t just stop there for study aids, in fact the limit is usually your own imagination. Take for example studying languages – how many people studying something like French or Italian had to wait for a holiday or a gap year in order to regularly hear and practice with native speakers. Nowadays you can log on to yoru PC or Xbox and hear a variety of languages spoken in groups and online communities. One student I knew studying Italian used to login to an Italian Call of Duty clan on the Xbox and play alongside Italians to practice – study certainly wasn’t that fun thirty years ago.
Imagine the benefits to a student of watching TV shows and films in the language you’re trying to learn. In the past this would have been unfeasible to arrange but now it can usually be achieved very easily. If you’re learning French for example – go and find the M6 Replay site which broadcasts loads of TV shows dubbed in French.
There are some problems in that many of these sites now block access outside their country but there are ways around it. You just need to find access to a proxy or VPN server to bounce your connection through. It sounds more complicated that it is, but basically to watch British TV online for example you just need a proxy in the UK.
You can use any device most use a PC or laptop but the technology can be adapted slightly to use other media devices like tablets and Smartphone. This post from the above site illustrates how to access foreign sites like the BBC Iplayer on an Ipad, all you are doing really is changing your IP address to match the location of the destination site – there’s a page of information on the previous site – www.uktv-online.com.
It’s easy to forget about these resources when you’re studying particularly if you’re college or University doesn’t highlight them. But for most students it enables them to expand their study options and in some cases make if even more fun and effective than traditional learning.
It’s a debate that’s being enacted throughout the world, rising costs mean that the price of a higher education is more than ever before. So is a degree or diploma worth the costs, is it worthwhile leaving college with a huge student loan to start off your working life? In Europe that statistics are quite chilling – countries like Spain and Greece have huge numbers of graduates – up to 40% of young people have a degree level education. It sounds positive until you meet them – highly educated young people who have been unemployed for years.
When you speak to a microbiologist with a post graduate degree who has never had a real job in her life. Unemployed for three years after completing a gruelling degree and burdened with thousands of Euros of debt as well. You start to think seriously – is it all worth it. High levels of education has not protected Europe from the recession, in many ways the jobs that graduates traditionally seek were the first casualities of the recesssion. We are left with low level, low skilled jobs which graduates are actually at a disadvantage in applying for.
Would you employ a graduate with a masters in Physics to clean your offices? Or would you suspect that they’d disappear for something better at the first opportunity? Unfortunately for our graduates in most places there is nothing better and low skilled jobs are all that there are. Of course the recession has another impact on Government spending, meaning that welfare support is also being slashed to manage the huge deficits.
Of course the jobs situation would likely be even more depressing if suddenly the numbers going to college dropped. Those numbers of 30,40 or even 50% of unemployed young people would spiral even higher. It is also essential for any economy that young people are educated, high levels of education have a large impact on economic success, even though it doesn’t always seem that.
What is essential is that the financial burdens on our students is limited as much as possible. Loan schemes and deferred payment options help students study without the crippling levels of debt that act as serious disincentive. There is hope through the medium of the internet in reducing the cost of traditional education. Online education is seen as the future, with already many of the world’s most successful universities offering courses online. Any student with a reasonable internet connection, a laptop or PC, can sign on an complete a course at one of the best universities in the world. It’s a huge benefit and shows that the internet is not all about playing games, messing about on Facebook or watching movies on the American Netflix !
Education is essential to building a successful and well rounded society. People with degrees are proven to contribute and take part more in society, for instance volunteering for charities and voting.
Now if you were compiling a short list of careers that would lead you to riches, then it’s very probable that teaching wouldn’t rank highly on them. teachers across the world are generally not driven by money and more by the other rewards that come with a career in education. However the world is changing and the internet is opening up many opportunities for all sorts of career diversification including teachers.
Take for example, a young Portuguese web developer who started posting videos abut programming languages on YouTube. He posted them up as a sort of online virtual notebook, to refresh his memory and keep up to speed with the language he didn’t use much. Yet soon they gathered a bit of a following, an increase in subscribers and soon he was receiving requests to extend the courses and even develop more content.
The young man did his best to add more courses but it wasn’t until he was contacted by the Udemy organisation that he began to consider the possibilities. Udemy broadcast courses in an online environment, one which allows limited interaction, notes and feedback centred around a core video course. In all an ideal environment for broadcasting a web developer course online. Udemy allowed you to charge a fee for the course of which the presenter takes 70% and the company 30% for providing the facilities and customers.
The developer who’s name was Victor quickly expanded his offerings and completed a full course, taking anyone from beginner to a web developer with skills in a variety of languages. The course was initially offered at about 50 bucks but when completed the price was raised to $189 for the 220 individual lessons. Which meant that it was within reach of anyone with an internet connection and a PC/laptop or even a VPN enabled iPad – like this.
In about a year and a half the freelance web developer who was earning about $20000 a year had earned well over four hundred thousand dollars from his online courses. His story is not alone, Udemy is bringing education to the masses and making some teachers with an aptitude for online delivery rather a lot of money at the same time.
It’s a story with very little negatives, education is expanded to anyone with an internet connection across the world. It also drastically reduces the costs for learning new skills – check this out. For educators it also opens up a whole new market at which they can make money from.