With the success of online education all over the world, the face of education is changing. The global world is getting smaller. People from different cultures, different tongues, different continents, all can listen to the same professor and work on the same project. Thanks to the internet. However, the big question is: What then is the future of education? Where is this online education going? And what is the answer?
Despite the tremendous success of online education, one cannot deny that there is something missing with the online education system. The miss precisely lies at the heart of its very advantage, online. Yes, we are talking about the limit of our physical presence in the digital world. Even though one can see or listen to each other through a certain hi-tech device like webcam, we still lack the actual physical presence. Exactly this problem is the complaint of many educators who oppose online education. Online education does have its advantage to run the teaching and learning process though the teacher and the students live ten thousand miles away, as long as they have the technology on hand. But both the teacher and the students can’t be in the same place at the same time.
Perhaps the next step of the infamous online education is through the use of virtual reality. Imagine the technology currently used in the MMORPG (Massively Multi Player Online Role Play Game), such as World of Warcraft or Second Life, to be used in creating a virtual school to bring together people who want to study from a teacher far away from their place. Those people can just plug in their computers to the internet, get online, enter the virtual school, and be in a virtual classroom to study together with the teacher they want to study with. People from all over the world can immediately be in a “place” together to enjoy the teaching and learning process impossible to enjoy without the virtual school.
Of course there will be problems of connectivity, rules and regulations, projects and assignments, exams and so on. However, if in our current situation online education can be used well enough in spite of the problem of physical presence, then virtual school might be the next big thing that can bring the solution of the problem of physical presence in the digital world closer.
Now, imagine a virtual university, imagine you enter the digital world through your computer, and choose your character, then register into the virtual university, then you choose your major, you walk in to a classroom, meet many people from many different parts of the world together in one virtual space, and then your professor walk in to your classroom, and you realize that all of the people in that virtual room are actually physically separated as far as ten thousand miles, but yet you are there together for one purpose, to learn. Are you still with me?
Now, what do you think?