The Future of Online Education

“The future of education isn’t learning about something, it’s about learning how to fluidly adapt to change. And it’s definitely not about going to a place to get “educated,” it’s about accessing and customizing the ocean of knowledge that already surrounds us in the cloud” (Uldrich, 2012).

Being able to adapt to the changing world that surrounds us is a quality that most people do possess.  The world of technology is constantly changing and if you are going to get ahead of the game, you will need to possess a good technological literacy.  The Internet is an example of technology that is constantly changing, adapting and expanding.  Online education has dramatically expanded in the last few years due to the fact the technology that powers the Internet, computers and the connectivity, has evolved tremendously in the past 10 years.  Things like streaming media in real time would have been unthinkable over the internet only few years ago but now we stream media, make phone calls and collaborate with classmates, co-workers and peers, through the means of more connectivity and additional bandwidth.

If we look at some statistics we see that 6,700,000 students were enrolled in at least one online course in 2012 that is whopping 32% of university enrollment (Lepi, 2013).  The universities that offer online education are constantly growing and in 2012 it was estimated that 89% of universities offered some sort of online learning (Lepi, 2013).  Online courses are growing fast and spreading around the globe like the yearly influenza, and the growth rate is 10:1 compared with traditional courses (Lepi, 2013).  With this growth rate and technology evolvement online education is here to stay and will get more established in the future.  One of the new forms of online education, the MOOC, has been establishing itself in the past few years.  A MOOC is massive open online courses where you can enroll in a free class and in some cases earn credits and certificates for a class finished (Lepi, 2013).

An instructional designer needs to be well technological literate to survive the ever-changing environment associated with online education.  Societal perceptions of distance education need to be turned around and people made aware that online degrees are not a secondary paper.  According to the equivalency theory, it does not matter how the knowledge is acquired so long as the end results are the same (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).  By increasing public awareness of the quality of online- learning, the attitudes toward online learning will shift and it won’t matter for prospective employers where the degree was received (Uldrich, 2012).  The instructional designer must speak well of online education and not be afraid to educate people on the benefits it brings.

Barack Obama pledged $500 millions for online courses and materials in 2009 and since then online education has grown tremendously and will keep on growing, advancing and evolve (Online Colleges, 2010). Instructional Designers worldwide will continue to promote online and distance education as a valid option versus brick and mortar education.  The field of distance education is comparatively new and will change as more experience is gained on how it is possible to educate through additional connectivity and the upcoming technological breakthroughs of the future will make the online student’s life much easier.  Distance Education is here to stay.



Lepi, K. (2013). he Past, Present, And Future Of Online Education. Retrieved from Edudemic:

Online Colleges. (2010). History of online learning. Retrieved from Online Colleges:

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: foundations of distance education. Boston, MA, USA: Pearson.

Uldrich, J. (2012). The Future of Higher Education: A Cloudy Forecast. Retrieved from Jump the curve: