Education is very vast topic and it is hard to cover many aspects in one writing so I will specifically write about future of higher education and what shape it is taking. There are two types of higher education systems now – traditional university education and online education.
We are well familiar with university based education so there is no need to explain it. The concept of online learning is a product of technological advancement which has made it possible to gain higher education at your home. The concept of online education is gaining momentum now as many universities around the world are offering online courses (MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton etc.) and even countries like Pakistan have some universities which are truly dedicated for online learning like Virtual University and Allama Iqbal Open University. Like world renowned universities, the big universities in Pakistan like Punjab University, Karachi University, Peshawar University and Baluchistan University can also offer online courses which could be very helpful for employed and un-employed Pakistanis.
This online education can be really helpful for those who are on job and want to continue their education. In addition, it can also be helpful for those housewives which could not continue their education after marriages but have desire to study further. Moreover, those students who cant afford fee of university education can also go for online education.
The concept of “continuous education” is also gaining momentum as after graduation you can go for some job but you dont stop your education and go for many different courses on contemporary topics and improve your skills, this way you dont remain stagnant at a position and improve your position in your organization by having more knowledge and skills. Many institutes in Pakistan are following the concept of continuous education like PTCL, Army etc. in which you go for different courses and learn new and advanced skills which not only help you but also your organization.
Initially you had to leave your job/family and had to join some university or institute for different short or long courses, but online education has solved this problem. Now you dont have to leave your office or home and you can learn new and advanced techniques by sitting in your office or at home. It cost you less and you can earn much more. I think all the organizations in Pakistan and other countries should go for continuous education according to nature of organization so the organization could survive in this competitive environment. In the present global situation, all the enterprise and organization has to be innovative and competitive to survive as the future slogan is “innovate or die”, and no organization wants to die.
I personally feel that these online courses could be really helpful for scientists, like me, as I may be good in experimental work but poor in statistics so if I can learn statistics, it could be very helpful for my research work. I can also give here the example of medical professionals, in Pakistan they are good in their medical practice but mostly are poor in clinical statistics, study design, manuscript writing, data collection etc. so along with their clinical practice, they can gain significant knowledge about these and other relevant skills through online courses and can make a difference.
Here, I should not deny the importance of traditional university education as it has its own significance and one cant deny from its importance. Universities and research institutes fuel the human progress by providing infrastructure for discoveries and innovations.
In addition, I would like to mention that the scholarly pursuit ignite between the age of 17-22 as we turn from youth to adulthood. In these years the focus of the students should be on their growth so they could learn and think well. Moreover, they should learn interpersonal skills and networking and all this can only be gained in traditional university based education system.
So I should conclude at the end that online higher education could be really good for people on job and after their graduation but for graduate level of education, person should try his level best to join a university and have their education in purely academic environment. Moreover, we should go for continuous education and should learn multiple techniques/skills to survive in competitive global environment.
The author is President NAYS Pakistan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org