Beyond the classroom walls: Reimagining the education paradigm

“While technology is not the answer to all challenges, it certainly is one solution”

The need to deliver education online is growing in popularity around the world, and this growth is not set to slow down anytime soon, writes Stéphanie Durand, ‎Head of Enterprise, EMEA at Coursera.

Technology is undoubtedly playing a vital role in the attitude shift toward breaking down traditional barriers of access. This means learning is no longer solely available to a reduced group of people. Opportunities for convenience, cost-effectiveness, and personal enrichment are just some of the variables that have contributed to online learning’s monumental growth.

Education for all – a case in point

Education is no longer off limits to anyone. Take Hadi Althib, one of Coursera’s learners, who fled his home country of Syria to escape military service in 2016.

“Online courses are boundless”

Hadi, now 23 years old, arrived in Turkey with dreams of starting a new life. He had no possessions and no plan. He settled near the Syrian border and focused on finding work and a place to live. Nearly 18 months after his arrival, like thousands of refugees across the world, Hadi turned to the internet for help and started to complete online courses to push himself back into education.

In the midst of conflict and instability, harnessing technology to reach disadvantaged communities and bridge gaps in traditional education systems can pave the way for refugees or anyone seeking to rebuild their lives and communities. Stories such as Hadi’s are evidence that this is working.

Geographical boundaries

Outside the big cities, people often experience significant challenges in terms of access to high quality education, even more so in developing countries.  These areas are impacted by fewer schools, a lack of trained teachers and large class sizes. Transport may not be easily affordable or learning centres may be too far away.

“The way content is being delivered is also revolutionising access to education”

So how do we combat this? While technology is not the answer to all challenges, it certainly is one solution. Thanks to online learning platforms, a physical classroom is no longer the only place to gain an education. Anyone can now learn anything, anywhere, without concern over the restrictions associated with a physical classroom.

This, in turn, is levelling the playing field between emerging and developed markets by allowing students all over the world to access education that was previously restricted to more economically developed regions.

Innovation in online resources

The way content is being delivered is also revolutionising access to education. The rise of mobility has been central to this transition in recent years and it’s easy to understand why – people can spend hours at a time scrolling through their mobile devices.

With such new habits, it makes sense for providers to offer quality rich content that is easily accessible for ‘on-the-go’ devices. Coursera are constantly looking for ways to improve their mobile learning experience, introducing tailored features such as transcripts, mobile notes, and personalised reminders.

As technology continues to innovate, we can expect the education sector to grow even further in the direction of customised solutions. This will put even greater emphasis on improving outcomes and personalised learning.

Limitless opportunities

Online courses are boundless and contain a unique blend of traditional and online teaching techniques to create a pathway that is open to everyone and suited to every type of learner. Whether it is somebody who has just finished university to a professional looking to bolster their CV or the lifelong learner interested in acquiring new skills.

Online learning continues to take education outside of classroom walls and break down the barriers to continued learning. The ability to learn online has become an enabler in providing everyone with a fair opportunity for quality education irrespective of their socio-economic background or geographic limitations.