Is The Online Education Market Saturated?

In nuclear physics, critical mass is defined as the minimum mass of material needed to undergo a continuous chain reaction. Today, we are witnessing the emergence of critical mass in online education. Online education has been defined as instruction where teacher and student are not in the same physical location at the same time. Its existence has had positive but limited results over the years. But the astounding increase in the capacity of technology has set off a powerful chain reaction.A collaborative effort between teachers, students, the government and the telecommunication companies has resulted in an explosion of possibilities for everyone. As the network gets bigger, teachers have a larger audience and underserved students find their horizons expanded. The result of this critical mass is better and more equal education for all students – a highly desirable goal.What Is Fueling the Changes?There are a few key elements in understanding why online education has improved. One of them is the expanding infrastructure of the Internet. The phone companies see the commercial potential of linking schools and communities to high-speed data networks. Companies like US WEST have been instrumental in upgrading the communications of many remote rural towns. The use of cutting edge technologies brings faster data transmission at reasonable prices and allows many more to participate in education-online.Software providers are also increasing the viability of online education. As software has improved, both teachers and students can access a great deal more material for their classes. Quality interactive content leads to more interesting and challenging classes -the kind that can motivate students. For example, LearningSpace software from the Lotus Development Corporation allows the kind of teacher/student interaction that closely simulates a typical classroom and keeps students involved. As more software companies develop such collaboration ‘spaces’, more educators will tap into the benefits of online education.