The Future of Education: Has Online Education Replaced Regular Education?

Yazan Alnajjar
January 5, 2022

Access to information has never been easier, too easy to the point where critics are demanding more effort be done to fact-check this endless supply of information that is drowning the web. But all is not lost, looking at the glass half full, this access has opened the door to online education which has been growing in acceptance and popularity in the last two decades.

Education and COVID-19

It required the interference of a major health crisis affecting humanity all over the globe, to shift the discussion around e-learning from being a secondary learning option, to be taken seriously as possibly the sole solution during the COVID-19 phase, and a key player in the post-pandemic era.

Looking at the data during last year alone, Udacity reported a reach for 14 million users (Udacity 2020: The Year in Review, 2021), edX having 80 million enrolments (2020 Impact Report, 2021), and Coursera reaching out to 70 million users (Coursera 2020 Impact Report, 2021). That is something, isn’t it?

Nonetheless, online education is still in its embryonic stage and there is still a lot to be done, especially when the discussion is shifted from the mere fact of learning for the sake of learning, to discussing more practical outcomes, like acquiring skills for hiring purposes.

That’s where all the hooray signs seem to drop to the ground. Ask yourself this simple question: if you were a business owner, would you hire someone with a MOOCs certificate?

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

One of the main challenges facing MOOCs and similar online courses is their recognizability to employers.

You might have taken a high-quality online course with MOOCs but to be fair, isn’t it time-intensive, and costly, for an employer to conduct thorough due diligence to identify which online and on-campus certificates matter when screening candidates?

The sad truth is that companies are blinded by the quality of education each university provides, online or not. And since time is of the essence, businesses would rather utilize that time focusing on core activities. That is the reason why using university rankings makes more sense as a filtration process to point out candidates that are more likely to be more efficient.

The Future of Education: Has Online Education Replaced Regular Education? MOOCs

According to sociologist Ono H., one company in Japan included four boxes for candidates to put their resume; Tokyo University, Hitotsubashi University, Wasedo/Keio University, which are the highest-ranking universities in the country, and the last box was labeled ‘other’.

Another mimicry example can be used from the American series Suits, where Pearson Hardman only hires Harvard Law graduates, which entails how the ranking is more than just a number, but rather a culture.

Internal Trouble with Online Education

Apart from recognizability, which can be described as the external issue, the internal trouble with online education is the sense of isolation which comes at the cost of negative attitude and feelings of frustration, and that in turn leads to lower interest in the material and performance.

The feeling of isolation is a dependent variable of commitment as measured by low completion rates in MOOCs for example. In addition, a pressure-free environment, like that of MOOCs, is reflected in lower control by the instructors and the ability of students to simply disregard them.

The Future of Education: Has Online Education Replaced Regular Education, Internal Trouble with Online Education

Finally, there is the absence of a dynamic instructor-learner relationship that plays a role in mentoring and guiding students, which is a significant component of any quality educational structure.

All such factors aggregate to form a lesser sense of seriousness and commitment throughout the learning journey.

MOOCs Alternatives

The Hybrid Teaching Method

There are available models in the market that try to overcome the disadvantages of MOOCs while at the same time hanging to its perks.

Examples include edX’s MicroMaster and Udacity’s Nanodegree programs. Another example is the Instrument model of Phi Science Institute, where the classroom experience is moved to the cloud.

Their method hybridizes online and classroom learning with more tendency towards the latter, which ensures more accessibility to students globally, unlike the classroom, and at the same time, provides a way around the multitude of disadvantageous of MOOCs, most prominently, the sense of isolation and absence of instructor-learner dynamics.

The Future of Education: Has Online Education Replaced Regular Education, MOOCs Alternatives

The Phi Science Method

Phi Science goes a step further by designing and delivering project-based programs with the direct help of professionals working in major companies and Professors at top-ranked universities, thereby allowing credibility to the learning process and accessibility to learners to be directly mentored and advised by lecturers that can aid their chances of employability.

Will Online Education Replace Regular Education?

Realistically, the path is still long for online education to overcome the perks of the classroom experience. However, it is time to start and utilize catalytic mechanisms to speed up the process.

This includes focusing on skill acquisition, involvement of experienced, knowledgeable instructors from reputable institutes and businesses, and partnering with market leaders in the design and delivery of the learning process, while at the same time, holding on to some of the online experience advantageous, mainly, access and flexibility.

Yazan Alnajjar

Business consultant, MBA student University of Liverpool

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The Future of Education: Has Online Education Replaced Regular Education?

Yazan Alnajjar
January 12, 2022

Access to information has never been easier, too easy to the point where critics are demanding more effort be done to fact-check this endless supply of information that is drowning the web. But all is not lost, looking at the glass half full, this access has opened the door to online education which has been growing in acceptance and popularity in the last two decades.

Education and COVID-19

It required the interference of a major health crisis affecting humanity all over the globe, to shift the discussion around e-learning from being a secondary learning option, to be taken seriously as possibly the sole solution during the COVID-19 phase, and a key player in the post-pandemic era.

Looking at the data during last year alone, Udacity reported a reach for 14 million users (Udacity 2020: The Year in Review, 2021), edX having 80 million enrolments (2020 Impact Report, 2021), and Coursera reaching out to 70 million users (Coursera 2020 Impact Report, 2021). That is something, isn’t it?

Nonetheless, online education is still in its embryonic stage and there is still a lot to be done, especially when the discussion is shifted from the mere fact of learning for the sake of learning, to discussing more practical outcomes, like acquiring skills for hiring purposes.

That’s where all the hooray signs seem to drop to the ground. Ask yourself this simple question: if you were a business owner, would you hire someone with a MOOCs certificate?

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

One of the main challenges facing MOOCs and similar online courses is their recognizability to employers.

You might have taken a high-quality online course with MOOCs but to be fair, isn’t it time-intensive, and costly, for an employer to conduct thorough due diligence to identify which online and on-campus certificates matter when screening candidates?

The sad truth is that companies are blinded by the quality of education each university provides, online or not. And since time is of the essence, businesses would rather utilize that time focusing on core activities. That is the reason why using university rankings makes more sense as a filtration process to point out candidates that are more likely to be more efficient.

The Future of Education: Has Online Education Replaced Regular Education? MOOCs

According to sociologist Ono H., one company in Japan included four boxes for candidates to put their resume; Tokyo University, Hitotsubashi University, Wasedo/Keio University, which are the highest-ranking universities in the country, and the last box was labeled ‘other’.

Another mimicry example can be used from the American series Suits, where Pearson Hardman only hires Harvard Law graduates, which entails how the ranking is more than just a number, but rather a culture.

Internal Trouble with Online Education

Apart from recognizability, which can be described as the external issue, the internal trouble with online education is the sense of isolation which comes at the cost of negative attitude and feelings of frustration, and that in turn leads to lower interest in the material and performance.

The feeling of isolation is a dependent variable of commitment as measured by low completion rates in MOOCs for example. In addition, a pressure-free environment, like that of MOOCs, is reflected in lower control by the instructors and the ability of students to simply disregard them.

The Future of Education: Has Online Education Replaced Regular Education, Internal Trouble with Online Education

Finally, there is the absence of a dynamic instructor-learner relationship that plays a role in mentoring and guiding students, which is a significant component of any quality educational structure.

All such factors aggregate to form a lesser sense of seriousness and commitment throughout the learning journey.

MOOCs Alternatives

The Hybrid Teaching Method

There are available models in the market that try to overcome the disadvantages of MOOCs while at the same time hanging to its perks.

Examples include edX’s MicroMaster and Udacity’s Nanodegree programs. Another example is the Instrument model of Phi Science Institute, where the classroom experience is moved to the cloud.

Their method hybridizes online and classroom learning with more tendency towards the latter, which ensures more accessibility to students globally, unlike the classroom, and at the same time, provides a way around the multitude of disadvantageous of MOOCs, most prominently, the sense of isolation and absence of instructor-learner dynamics.

The Future of Education: Has Online Education Replaced Regular Education, MOOCs Alternatives

The Phi Science Method

Phi Science goes a step further by designing and delivering project-based programs with the direct help of professionals working in major companies and Professors at top-ranked universities, thereby allowing credibility to the learning process and accessibility to learners to be directly mentored and advised by lecturers that can aid their chances of employability.

Will Online Education Replace Regular Education?

Realistically, the path is still long for online education to overcome the perks of the classroom experience. However, it is time to start and utilize catalytic mechanisms to speed up the process.

This includes focusing on skill acquisition, involvement of experienced, knowledgeable instructors from reputable institutes and businesses, and partnering with market leaders in the design and delivery of the learning process, while at the same time, holding on to some of the online experience advantageous, mainly, access and flexibility.

Yazan Alnajjar

Business consultant, MBA student University of Liverpool

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