What is Online Learning, Really?

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Posted on: 18 Feb 2020

Online learning falls into the distance learning category, but only as far as there can be vast physical distances between student and teacher.

At this point, we have more than likely all heard the phrase ‘distance learning’, and it’s true, online learning falls into that category – but only as far as there can be vast physical distances between student and teacher. 

Where online learning breaks into new territory, is the tangible proximity it can create between not only student and teacher, but student and fellow classmate.

In the traditional form, learning was done in a classroom and through a rote procedure where repetition was the king of cognitive growth. And this worked for a while. There was a clear rise in the homeschooling movement in the latter decades of the 20th century with course material being sent out to learners and optimistic parents, with this also seeing the growth of distance learning institutes such as UNISA. Once again, this worked for a while. 

But the world we live in today is changing at such a rapid pace, that by the time students receive their textbooks, they are practically out of date with what we should be teaching the future generations of our planet. And this is where online learning is seen to be carving out the evolution of education as we know it. 

Online learning provides the opportunity for students to learn and be taught from literally anywhere in the world, by the best teachers in the world, without being limited to the confines of physical space in any way, shape or form. And that includes their classmates: if the idea is to have us all learning in the best way possible, then a global student body, dialling-in from every corner of it is surely the best way to get the whole picture? 

We are living in the 4th Industrial Revolution, where the future is rooted in technology and we live simultaneously on terra firma as well as online – and that’s not something to be afraid of.

The possibilities that online learning provides can, and will, take the concept of learning into the next ‘revolution’ with unlimited access to any and all information, all opinions and all cultures, at the click of a button. It is truly and undoubtedly, the evolution of education. 

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