Online Education in Era of 'Social Web'

Prof. Enrique DansOnline education has a long and winding history. Initially regarded by many institutes as a very interesting option to lower costs and offer students a way to learn with interactive materials, it evolved into something that could be described as “education on steroids” â?? in a regular classroom, time with the professor is limited.

Once a student raises ones hand, the professor can either notice or not. In many cases, the number of people raising their hands can be quite high and itâ??s just impossible to allocate time for all of them. The student can ask a question or talk for only two to three minutes as the classmates may start to get nervous.

The professor has a split second to think about the question, and is forced to reply immediately â?? no real time connection from the brain to the Web has been invented yet. Finally, when it comes to grading, the professor may or may not recall that brilliant intervention from the student, and may or may not introduce it in the grade.

Now compare that to online education. At IE Business School a student sends a message to the online forum. The professor can either reply right away or send the question back to the forum for other students to build on it.

The dialogue can be much richer, diverse, involve more participants and one can build more knowledge and perhaps generate questions or lessons that could create new threads. In the end, when it comes to grading, everything is there, in the forum or digital drop box, waiting to be evaluated. The difference, is the richness of the digital medium â?? something that can really make a difference given the special characteristics of executive education, where students generally donâ??t have to memorize formulas or equations.