Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is rapidly revolutionizing everything around us. The question that remains to be asked – “Why not our education system?” In a world that is increasingly being defined by digital communication, it seems absurd to hold on to purely old school ideas. With an increasing number of people gaining access to the internet, our lives are steadily moving into a digital realm. Considering the fact that most activities can be carried out online today, helping each and every student in America gain access to a high quality education via online learning platforms doesn’t seem like a distant possibility anymore.

Initiatives to adopt technology and integrating it with our current education system have received widespread attention and that too, with good reason. There are several aspects to consider when evaluating online education as a viable alternative to our traditional schooling system. While there are several advantages to employing technology for the purpose of imparting education, the potential drawbacks need to be considered as well. For starters, let us consider the numerous advantages online schools in the United States have presented us with.

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Self-paced Learning
The most prominent benefit of employing online learning platforms is the ability such avenues offer students to vary the pace of their learning. Traditional schools primarily adopt a ‘one size fits all’ type of policy when defining the learning pace for the entire class. This approach however, tends to marginalize those students who cannot keep up with the set pace. Eventually, such students either give up trying or drop out of school. With a large percentage of high school dropouts in the country, ensuring such students are provided with the necessary assistance and guidance is absolutely critical to their future success and ours as a society as well.

The ability to learn at your own pace can be priceless, especially when you consider students with special needs. Every student is different in his or her own special way, which is why developing a learning environment that can help them leverage their individual capabilities is very important. Moreover, for students participating in different kinds of extracurricular activities such as student-athletes, online education is the ideal solution given its combination of flexibility combined with accountability. Students are provided with varying degrees of freedom to complete their coursework while allowing them to devote the time and focus required to nurture their professional skills as well.

Affordability
As technology advances, the costs associated with developing online learning platforms will continue to reduce. At the same time, the quality and features associated with that technology are all set to improve exponentially. Competition and innovation have given birth to solutions that were considered impossible only a few years ago. With the cost of education spiraling beyond reach of the average American, such online platforms can certainly help bridge the gap between those who can afford a good education and those who cannot. Additionally, when you factor in the amount of time and cost savings online schools can deliver, using technology to improve the quality, accessibility and affordability of education seems like a no-brainer.

Collaboration
With practically all resources available online, students can now collaborate with virtually anyone from anywhere in the world. Additionally, teachers too, can interact and engage with other teachers not only from the United States but from other parts of the world as well. By interacting online, both students and teachers can virtually communicate in real-time, facilitating faster feedback and communication. Online communication modes such as email and live chats also serve as very viable options for teachers to interact with and monitor their students. Online education platforms provide them with an avenue that helps them nurture learning in more engaging ways. This enables teachers to make learning more fun for students, which in turn results in better student performance and eventually better grades.

Another important benefit of communicating online is that teachers are able to interact with parents in a more effective way and in a timely manner. As a time and cost effective solution, communicating online allows teachers to provide parents with periodic feedback on a more regular basis without the hassles of physically meeting up with the parents every time. By reducing the time span for feedback, challenges affecting their child’s performance can be discussed in a more proactive way, enabling both teachers and parents to focus on problem areas and remedy the same at the earliest.

Accessibility
With more and more online platforms being set up in the United States, students from different parts of the country are now slated to gain access to good quality education at a fraction of the costs. Not only students from rural areas but also those from abroad can now enroll with accredited online schools in America. By moving education online, students can now engage in a learning process that is more holistic in nature. Also, in most cases, they can easily access all the possible material they require within a few minutes. Being able to study from the comfort of your own home certainly has its benefits, doesn’t it?

While it is true that we still have a long way to go in terms of providing every child in America with broadband internet access, that day doesn’t seem very far when students will have access to practically everything they need with just a click. We currently face a number of obstacles in attaining scalability of online learning platforms. While overcoming those obstacles will be challenging they are certainly not insurmountable. In the long run, online solutions hold the key to unlocking the potential of our children.

Integrating technology with our education system will certainly make for more engaging environments, which in turn will boost student performance and improve graduation rates. In addition to that, our students will be better equipped with skills vital to their success in the 21st century. At the end of the day, preparing our children for the future is what matters most and applying technology to education is certainly the way to achieve that.

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