Following the unprecedented growth of technology into all levels of the education system, it is important to take a step back to review and evaluate the changes that have occurred throughout this time. Sanjay Sarma, a professor of mechanical engineering and vice president for open learning, and Karen Willcox, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics, led a team of faculty members and researchers to unite the independent disciplinary discussions occurring on the subject of online education (source).

After gathering data from all relevant fields, ranging from cognitive science to socioeconomics, the team compiled a report titled “Online Education: A Catalyst for Higher Education Reform.” This report presented four broad recommendations for the future implementation of online education into current learning environments. The first recommendation called for “interdisciplinary collaboration” between learning-related fields, in order to bring together the individual advances in each field to revolutionize the face of education. The next, involved the integration of online education into traditional learning practices. The report recommends a careful combination of the two practices, where online learning provides extra support to traditional methods, without replacing it. The importance of human to human interaction in the learning process is essential and cannot be replaced solely by online courses. The third recommendation calls for the creation of an entirely new job market, which the report refers to as “learning engineers.” The sole purpose of learning engineers would be to integrate technology and knowledge to optimize the learning experience to bring about the necessary changes in the field of education. The final recommendation, “high-level institutional and organizational change” is necessary to receive the support required to actually implement these changes.

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This post was written by Melissa Yu