Something changed towards the second half of the 20th Century. Along with civil rights and suffrage in the US, elite universities across the West started welcoming students of all classes, colours and genders. New countries such as India emerged from the ashes of colonialism, and sought to build egalitarian societies with education for all.
Education, which had long been the domain of the elite male in almost every society across the globe, suddenly became accessible to everyone.
We didn’t know it then, but humanity was on the great march of education for all. From a few thousand universities such as Oxford, Harvard, Nalanda, Zhou Dynasty Schools – bastions of knowledge, books, wisdom and often the target of invading hordes – here we are in this new era of plenty when it comes to learning.
Learners were always aplenty. The change started with the easy accessibility of books, then of teachers. Religious and social reformers like Confucius entreated rulers to “Provide education for all people without discrimination”. Universal, compulsory education for all found a lot of support as it emerged in 16th Century Europe.
The advent of technology in education in the 20th Century coupled with the societal reforms happening in parallel gave greater momentum to this movement. Education, in fact, became commoditized – you could sit in the comfort of your living room and order cassettes to learn languages or even prepare for an important exam.
The early 21st century can arguably be called the Golden Age of Education. Want to learn from someone across the globe? Check. Want to select from a choice of the best courses from the best available trainers on the subject? Check. Want to learn at your own pace, at your own time, at the location of your choosing? Triple check! Would you like to drop in to a neighbourhood training centre? But of course!
We are in the Knowledge Era, the great era when the dream of learning for everyone has been made reality. Education platforms like Coursera, Udemy, Udacity, EdX and others bring the best of knowledge on the globe to anyone, anywhere. Course providers and e-learning companies across the world are working feverishly to build exciting, engaging courses that hit the right neurons and trigger learning. Get Me a Course is the world’s largest course aggregator, combing education engines globally to bring users the best on offer.
The future is only brighter. Technologies such as Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are being used in learning systems to personalise and customise learning according to learners’ abilities, needs and pace. As learning becomes more sophisticated, it is possible to get trained on hazardous situations (think aircraft flying, hazmat) in simulated Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality (AR/VR) environments without the expense and danger.
Welcome to the Brave New World of ‘Learning for Everyone, By Everyone’!
This is a first of a 3 part series from Get Me a Course tracing the roots of education and making predictions for the future. In our next article, we will examine “The Necessity of Learning, Unlearning and Relearning for All”.