Why Distance Education is right for MILLENNIALS
Millennials or Generation Y is that generation of people who were born anywhere between the early 1980s to the early 2000s. Although the characteristics of the people belonging to this generation may vary, they are generally defined by their increased comfort and familiarity with digital, communication and media technologies. Distance education on the other hand, is the long-distance format of learning where the teachers and students do not have to be physically present in the class room. Today, distance education is getting popular as various graduate and postgraduate distance learning courses are being introduced by several educational institutions all over the world.
The world has truly changed with the advancement in technology. Education in this world is no more limited to being physically present on a campus at a certain time of the day. Today’s generation can work and study at the same time. Thanks to the internet, they are used to the idea of getting an information when they need it in an instant. They use knowledge as a means of exploring and building a better future for themselves. This is highly different from the previous generations of baby boomers or generation X. The millennials are used to instant gratification and technology is helping them in getting it. Path breaking technology has made it possible for them to aspire for a new way of living, working and learning.
Understanding the Millennials
The expectations of millennials are different. A global digital culture has emerged which means that students across geographies have similar expectations from their learning process and from its outcome. The millennial generation around the globe has a similar mind-set. It is important to understand this mindset for giving them the kind of education they would like to receive.
The millennials are turning to the distance education mode for learning today. The distance education courses are carried out on the digital medium of internet. The classroom is virtual, and students can register for a course of their choice whenever they want to. There is no waiting for the beginning of an annual admissions season. The students can study from their home and can attend classes at a time which is most flexible to them. They can attend video-based classes and take online tests to pass the course. The internet is full of educational portals conducting MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) in collaboration with the best universities in the world.
Why Distance Education?
For a millennial, distance education is a great way of educating oneself. It provides them with the benefit of studying at their own time and at their own place. It gives them the flexibility to choose their course and enrol when they want to. This is in contrast to the dependence on the traditional method of education which imposed several limitations on the students. Hence, the conventional pattern of education is no more appealing to a millennial. They take up traditional education only when they do not have another choice which is better than that.
Millennials thrive in an environment of collaboration, feedback and mentorship. They are not opposed to technology, in fact they are comfortable around it. All of the above factors are easily witnessed on the internet that in conventional classes. Whereas, traditional university are holding on to the lecture classes. While there are some benefits like a sense of discipline and decorum in such as method. It is not as collaborative and open. A student has to wait for the end of the semester for a feedback in the form of grades. They do not get to actively collaborate with other students. Internet based distance education allows both collaboration and feedback almost instantly. Students can be a part of online communities where they can share knowledge, collaborate and communicate with each other. Educational technology is now being aided by artificial intelligence making it possible to give faster and continuous feedback to students.
Millennials are a big driving force for the education industry. They are changing things at school and at work. Their mindset has been moulded by a different level of exposure to lifestyle aided by technology and communication. They are the first generation that has grown up in a world that is dominated by technology. From internet to smart phones to education, technology has been a constant companion for this generation. It has impacted their personalities in a way no other generation has been impacted. As a result, this high level of technological exposure has led them to have a very different expectation from their places of study and work as compared to the previous generations. It is important that educational institutions pay heed to the needs of the millennial generation, in order to thrive in a world driven by millennials.