FREE EDUCATION IN THE DIGITAL ERA

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Many years ago, in many countries, education was more affordable than it is today. The families were larger and not all children got the opportunity to further study at a university level but up until high school it was affordable for parents to send their children to school.

 

Today, even though families have become smaller it has become even more difficult to achieve higher education. Many countries have public schools up until high school. There are just a few countries that have good public universities. Even universities that offer scholarships are expensive for families to afford clothing and other required items.

   

EDUCATION AS A BUSINESS

Unfortunately, education has become a business instead of remaining a human right. Especially for those who want to later on change careers. This happens to those of us who realize we have more potential than we thought. Changing careers is expensive.  It’s no joke. There are many courses offered at extremely high prices.

 

Once you compare the content to what is available online you see that you are paying for the location of the course, which is in most cases a hotel conference room or somewhere fancy. Why? It is easier to give courses at universities and training locations, why choose the most expensive option?

 

Because that is the most profitable choice for the organization. You don’t know how much they get charged for rent. Maybe they get it for free or at a discount. Why would you pay for something you can get for free and enrich a selective group of people?

 

Education should not be a business, but it is. Now, let’s be real, “free education” also has its problems. Someone has to pay for it. Sometimes you see the influence of the sponsors in the content favoring their products and services. It is difficult to expect an objective presentation.

   

ONLINE LEARNING

Online or digital learning has significantly increased in popularity because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic forced everyone, who owns a laptop or PC, to rely heavily on technology. Teachers and students had to learn to adapt to new digital tools and platforms.

 

The effectiveness of online learning during the pandemic is still to be determined on a global scale but the evidence so far is not positive. Most probably the whole education system needs to be restructured. In my opinion, especially in the era of new technologies, education should be available and affordable for all those who want to learn. One lesson learned from the pandemic is that it benefited those that have a computer and could afford the internet.

 

Having digital learning as the only option severely impacted young children and students from the lower class across the globe who simply couldn’t afford a laptop and internet. It showed the impact of the digital divide in education among social classes.

 

The million-dollar question that needs to be answered regarding the global digital divide is: how to provide free access to devices and technology to the lower classes in society?

 

   

ENTREPRENEURSHIP & CRITICAL THINKING

What traditional education doesn’t promote is entrepreneurship. It rather teaches you to conform to a desk and do the same workday in and day out. Today youngsters are more exposed to entrepreneurship which inspires them to create their businesses. But at the same time, the road to making that a reality is rough. Cubicle jobs are still seen as stable & reliable, and universities have no issue producing the workforce for those industries. The perfect employees are the herd follower’s cubicle conformists with limited critical thinking. And it’s not their fault.

 

Critical thinking has not been effectively taught and you will probably learn it through life experiences. Rather than follow the crowd you gather the facts and evidence, think on your own, and form your own conclusions. I don’t mean a quick Wikipedia read but studying the writings from several authors even those that may seem unconventional or controversial. It will help you understand why things happen the way they do.

 

Be aware of what is happening around the world, as many of us have noticed, not everything is what it seems. But don’t stress too much because most of it is out of our control. Pay attention to the social media “bandwagon propaganda” that promotes the idea of doing something because everybody else is doing it.  Before joining the bandwagon be more critical and question why they are doing it. Does it benefit the cause they are doing it for? What could make an actual impact and help the cause directly?

 

There are several examples of demonstrative support year after year for causes on social media that have no (positive) impact. On the contrary, the situation stayed the same or became worse. Maybe because those with the power to have a positive impact did not mean it and just participated for the sake of participating.

 

Take a moment to think rationally before joining the bandwagon because sometimes these marketing campaigns are a distraction. Distracting the people from more urgent issues that need more attention. Instead, maybe there are things that you can do locally to have a direct impact on improving your community. In the end, you have a direct influence on your environment so why not work on the things you can control?  Become someone who can contribute positively to your community. Pay more attention, be more critical, and become more active.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

One of the benefits of this digital era is that it opens your eyes to the different possibilities you have to build your career. Traditional education hasn’t been working. It indoctrinates and puts you in a box, making you believe that the business side of your brain is more important than your creative side. That is not true. Each student is different and has a different style of learning.

 

The restructuring of education should consider building a new format that includes a combination of digital and in-person learning with different curriculums that can accommodate different learning styles. Traditional education ignores this and labels the student as inadequate or troublesome, many of whom end up in detention. Fortunately, there are platforms online that offer many forms of learning methods at affordable prices.

 

Free education may be questionable but affordable education is not a crazy idea. It’s a great idea! Real knowledge is power. Keep learning and keep growing

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