Online University Brings New Opportunities to Asian Students

Fuvahmulak is an isolated island in the Maldives, a group of islands in the Indian Ocean. One of the residents of Fuvahmulak, Abdulla Rasheed Ahmed, wanted to further his education by earning his doctoral degree in education, but since Fuvahmulak is so isolated, the closest university to his home was an hour’s flight away, and this university does not even offer the degree that Ahmed was seeking.

In the past, Ahmed had taken time off from his job as a school principal to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degree, but he did not want to be away from his family and job for a long enough period to earn his doctoral degree. So, what was he to do? Ahmed did something that seems pretty normal to us, but is not nearly as common in Asia: he enrolled in an online university.

“Studying online is very suitable for working people,” Ahmed said. “You can study anytime, anywhere, regardless of your location.”

In the past, students who lived in areas that were not near a university could either relocate or take classes via distance learning. Distance learning is when homework assignments, lectures, and other course materials were mailed back and forth between the school and the student. Luckily for students like Ahmed, this untimely mode of education is being replaced by online classes, where all you need is an Internet connection and a computer to learn whatever it is that you are interested in.

Ahmed enrolled in Asia eUniversity, just one of many homegrown Asian institutes of higher learning that are springing up across the continent. Another such online university is Wawasan Open University in Malaysia. The school’s president, Wong Tat Meng, said that this new form of education “has really taken the ‘distance’ out of distance education.”

In China alone, there are 68 online colleges. South Korea is considered to be the most advanced country, concerning e-learning opportunities and online courses.

Why did this new trend in education begin in Asia?

“Many working adults simply do not have the time to attend face-to-face lectures delivered in conventional universities,” Wong said. “Also, governments simply cannot build sufficient brick-and-mortar universities fast enough to meet the huge demand for knowledge workers need to drive the knowledge economy.”

Now, this huge demand can be satisfied by allowing students to attend classes in a non-traditional – but more customizable – way. I have two big questions for you:

  1. Why is it that e-learning is just now catching on in Asia?
  2. Do you think that online colleges will replace traditional, brick-and-mortar universities in the future?

Please share your answers below in the comment section!

Via The NY Times

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