There is a lot of talk around usage of greater technology in education and how it has the potential to transform the "industry". We have acquired some really great experiences in using technology in higher education at Sunstone Business School and learnt some unique things.
Coming from the industry, the biggest impact technology had on all industry was to increase the pace of collaboration. Firstly, it was simply email, then information systems and now social systems, they all help share and collaborate at an incredible pace. Technology can add the same value in education. For example, using greater technology, an institute can collaborate in a much more meaningful way with industry, alumni, students and facilitators. However, the main challenge remains pedagogy. Institutes have to create learning methods ground up wrapped around technology, and not just leave it at recording lectures and beaming that and calling it technology. If you go back to postal mail, one way to adopt technology was to make faster transport and get the postal mail delivered faster. The other is to re-design communication around new technology and email was born.
Once you get the pedagogy right, online education can play a major role in 3 major areas: Access, Affordability, and Quality.
Access: Using the power of Internet, learners can now attach themselves with institutes from far and wide. Some of the Open Online Courses run by Western Universities now have millions of learners enrolled. At Sunstone, we run open courses an reach out to over a 1,000 learners/month spread across different parts of India.
Affordability: The incremental cost that an institute has to spend on every additional student is far lesser than traditional education. The faculty still has to work with every student, grade their work etc. but you don't additional real estate, tables, chairs, and all the overheads that come with it for every additional student. This makes the overall education much more affordable for learners.
Quality: Contrary, to popular notion - use of technology can deliver a superior learning experience if the pedagogy is right. Access to great quality teachers, focus on collaboration and the consistency of the curriculum has the potential to make it very high quality for the students.
We at Sunstone feel that the combination is the key. The ability of technology to transform education depends not just on access and affordability, but when you combine it with higher quality. That is when the magic will happen.