The revolution in online learning - Telegraph
"Technology has revolutionised learning. From the rise of MOOCs to apps on iPads designed for children who can often navigate iOS before being able to walk, it is clear that technology is providing new education platforms for all levels. According to UNESCO, 6 billion people around the world now have access to mobile phones and digital devices. This astronomic growth of cheap technology presents a huge opportunity for learners, especially in emerging countries. The wider and technologically advanced provision of education tries to satisfy the demands of a fast-growing student population – from 20 million in 1970 to 164 million in 2000 to an eye-watering projected 260 million students globally by 2020. Despite all of this, it’s often the case that university students are often unable to access the research they need due to systems being stuck in the past ... The textbooks and academic books they need are often too expensive and printed on paper, rather than being freely available in real time in digital format. As a result, learners increasingly rely on unverified sources for information, whilst good quality research paid for by the taxpayer, remains inaccessible to the vast majority of readers. Even academics often don’t have access to research material which is behind paywalls or out of reach. Only scholars at top institutions who can pay exorbitant subscription prices to scholarly journals and can purchase expensive scholarly books are able to access all the resources they need. It seems ironic that the Internet, which was designed by academics who wanted to develop a quick and easy way to transfer knowledge, is not yet the free vehicle of research results that its creators had envisaged ... To get the most out of the benefits that technology can bring to education, the entire publishing system needs to be replaced by organisations able to provide high-quality educational material free for all to access. The thinking behind making academic texts available online, otherwise known as Open Access, is crucial to the entire philosophy of learning. Online materials have the ability to be published and made available significantly quicker than the notoriously slow traditional publishing cycle for printed texts ..."