In the face of strong predictions about what will happen, it makes sense to take a step back and consider the reality of what is happening on the Internet and education. As suggested at the beginning of this article, amid these allegations of great transformation and disruption, it is important to ask how the potential of Internet education can be realized in practice. There is no doubt that the Internet has been used for educational purposes for a long time. Several leading Internet-based education models have emerged over the two to three decades to improve the quality of education. Perhaps the most robust are the various forms known as e-learning – from online courses to virtual classrooms and even virtual schools. Many early forms of e-learning involve the one-way distribution of learning content and therefore copy appropriate forms of traditional distance education. These programs (which continue to this day) tend to be based on online content management systems, although supported by some form of interaction in the form of email, bulletin boards, and other communication systems. In addition to this form of content delivery, virtual classrooms also have an ongoing development – often representatives of classrooms or lecture theatres where students and teachers can stay.
Often this virtual space is designed to support the form of teaching and direct feedback simultaneously so that students can listen to talks and watch videos and visual presentations while interacting with other students through text and audio. Other asynchronous forms of the virtual classroom exist in the form of digital spaces where resources can be accessed and shared – such as audio recordings and lecture transcripts, additional reading, and discussion forums. These systems of e-learning have continued to be developed since the 1990s all over the world, with all cyber schools and universities online and now with the features of an in-depth education system from one place to another in the world. While these examples of e-learning tend to repeat the basic structures and procedures of brick schools and universities, various educational models supported by the Internet have emerged in the last 20 years.
One of the most common forms of Internet-based education is the collective creation of knowledge and knowledge, as exemplified in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. While there is an ongoing debate about its accuracy and scope, Wikipedia education is of great importance. In addition to being a vast source of information, users’ ability to contribute and create excellent content appears to make wiki tools like Wikipedia an important educational tool. There is a prevalent belief among many educators today that large-scale user-oriented applications such as Wikipedia allow individuals to participate in more meaningful and important learning activities in general than ever before.
The student who made some corrections to Wikipedia articles today contributed more general knowledge in a matter of minutes than he did throughout his primary school education. 100% wiki tools fit the wider Open Source Educational movement, which is about making professionally developed educational materials available online for free. Thus, it is acknowledged that nearly 80 percent of course content at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is available free of charge. Alike pledges can be created in such institutions ranging from leading universities such as Yale and Oxford to local community colleges.
In all these cases, course materials such as seminar notes, podcasts, and speaking videos are shared online with a worldwide student population, many of whom are unable to attend. More importantly (as on Wikipedia), the emphasis on Open Source Education not only allows individuals to use the provided materials but also encourages modification and transformation of those resources as needed. For example, the extensive Open Learn project at the UK Open University provides free online access to all corporate curriculum materials and an invitation for each user to customize this resource as they wish.
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