Here are some of the major advantages of online education over traditional schoolroom education:
Online education can employ the talents of rare and gifted educators who can deliver complex ideas with elegant lectures that are clear, accessible, and compelling. More importantly, benefits of exposing masses of students to such exceptional teachers include the possibility of having these teachers serve as models and sources of inspiration to the young. Most of us have had the good fortune of being taught by one or two such unforgettable and life-altering teachers and recognize that it is nearly impossible to expect this standard of inspired teaching in the typical classroom. In comparison, for online courses that are to reach thousands of students, recruiting such special teachers becomes affordable and achievable, because the cost is incurred once (when the lessons are prepared) and is spread over an immense audience.
Unlike traditional education, online education offers enormous flexibility to both educators and students. Students can explore varied resources and select those they find most suited to their temporary needs. If an online class on a particular topic is not suitable or satisfactory, alternatives can be explored and used as supplements or replacements. Unlike the classroom setting, one does not have to be wedded to any single resource. User-based selection should engender a very high degree of competition among various online resources and help generate major improvements over time within this new medium. Thus, online education can serve as an incubator of varied, novel, and exciting methods for transmitting knowledge at a tiny fraction of the cost currently incurred by traditional schools.
As online education becomes more commonplace, evaluation of the effectiveness of various educational programs will become widely available to parents and will give parents the tools to exercise substantially better control over learning methods and curriculum. Parents will thus be able to rely on high quality education that is based on proven and effective teaching methods and talent. Students will be challenged and encouraged individually without the myriad distractions of the classroom, including the destructive influence of disruptive students. Encouraging parents with tax breaks or vouchers to shift to online educational resources could go a long way toward solving the very high cost and debt burdens currently plaguing government at all levels. Students would do most of the learning online, but would take the examinations in standardized settings administered by specialized third-party for-profit entities. In this way, awarded degrees would be rigorously controlled and certified.