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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Embracing the Digital Age

I recently spoke to a friend I've known for years about possibly moving out of state with me. He is young (nearly 10 years younger than myself, actually) and he has always grown-up with the level of technology many of us are still adjusting to (well, not me; I'm an uber-nerd - but I digress). Yet he declined because he is trying to go to college!

Whether or not he will actually attend college is not the point of this post - nor is whether or not he was simply using this as an excuse to avoid the issue. What struck me about this exchange was that this was even still a matter for debate!

With online education expanding daily, traditional universities - like all other traditional methods - are becoming increasingly out-dated. While one could argue the point, consider this: can you imagine a modern college without computers?

While some fossils will argue the merits of one-on-one teaching, "being there," and all that "face-to-face, we're losing our interpersonal skills and relationships" nonsense, with high-speed access spreading and becoming more affordable, the Web is poised to tackle all of these fallacious limitations head-on. Video, netmeetings, VoIP, social networking, e-mail and IM, and emerging technologies defeat all of these excuses - not to mention solve them in ways no traditional means ever can:
  • One-on-one education? What makes that easier than e-mail or IM?
  • Print communications eliminates traditional pupil excuses of "not knowing," and applications such as Web Calendars and effective social networking practices eliminates scheduling conflicts, confusions, and complications.
  • "Face-Time"? What does that even mean!? That was never anything more than a buzzword, created by Neo-Luddites who wanted some sort of "edge" over their technologically-savvy competitors. I don't need to smell your breath or wince as you constantly clear your throat to feel I am getting to "know you." In fact, unless there is some higher, personal relationship factor(s) at-play, why do I want to "know you"? You are my instructor and that is as far as our relationship need go.
  • You need a computer for college these days - some highschoolers need computers! - what is the point of doing part of your work on a computer, carrying a recorder to lectures, printing-out your homework, ad nauseam? Online education keeps everything centralized and accessible.
  • Your personal expenses aside, tuition, communications, legal, insurance, and other institutional expenses - which are, of course, passed-on to the student in one form or another - would be severely curtailed, if not completely eliminated. The massive reduction in overhead would result in dramatically more affordable options, opening-up higher education to many who cannot afford it now.
I could go on and on, and I'm sure you can add to any list I create, no matter how replete, but I am still in awe of those who seek to continue doing things the hard way. While some understand the advancements and how they are changing the world, there is still a large sector of the general populace that all but refuses to embrace the Digital Age.

The rest of us should not be retarded by them.

© C Harris Lynn, 2008
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