How the Internet Might Replace the Classroom


There are many, many, great resources on the web, especially in the area of education. There are thousands of sites dedicated just to teaching languages, for example.  In fact, Bill Gates said earlier this month that he expected that within five years the web would provide a better education than our institutions of higher learning.  Here in Texas, the Board of Education seems to have fully embraced this trend, and now offers a home schooling program for elementary school-aged kids that is completely online.  They even provide the computer.

My Life Scoop recently listed a few of the best sites for education, and there are more created every day.  In fact, Xconomy pubished an article yesterday about a new startup, Udemy, whose name comes from “academy for you.”  Udemy received $1 million in seed funding to “democratize learning on the web.”

Notwithstanding these great online learning opportunities, I’m still not sure that I want a lawyer representing me who got a law degree from iTunes U.  So what do you think:  will the internet ever truly replace the classroom, or will it always be a supplement to improve the classroom experience?

Bill Gates:  In Five Years the Best Education Will Come From the Web [via TechCrunch]

Feed Your Mind For Free Online [via My Life Scoop]

Udemy Collects $1 Million to Exapnd Casual Learning Platform [via Xconomy]


  1. I certainly hope that it never replaces the classroom experience, but simply enhances it.

    The internet is a great tool – but it’s just that, a tool. Cordless screwdrivers are pretty cool, but I still have a hammer and crescent wrench. Different tools are best for different tasks.

    I’d hate to see the value of teachers get forgotten. For the higher achievers, a self-driven web-based curriculum might make a lot of sense. But for those who struggle, it is very important to have a teacher hands-on to diagnose the problem and assist the student.

    I think schools also informally teach a lot of social skills that are important in life. At some point, a lot of people are going to end up in job that involve face to face interaction with people.

    Even worse, might kids lose the opportunity to experience their first crush – gazing across the classroom at the object of their affection? Say it ain’t so, Josh!

    Having said that, I do think that the internet is a great tool to aid in the learning process.

  2. Haha, if for no other reason than childhood romance, I hope it doesn’t go away. I completely agree with you on all points Kosmo. I’m skeptical of the claims being made about the future of education, but with the way things go in technology who knows?

    When I graduated college they were just starting to pilot on-line boards for posting schedules etc. Now, like I said in the post, in Texas kids don’t even have to attend elementary school if their parent is willing to vouch for them sitting in front of the computer!

    • The internet makes great sense for posting a schedule, syllabus, etc. What’s the point in having the prof answer the phone to answer random question (“Hey, when’s the next test?”) Better to maximize the value of the prof’s time for actually facilitating the learning process.

      But sticking a kid in front of a computer for 13 years (17 with college) and expecting them to emerge as a capable member of society – that might be asking a bit too much.

  3. I agree with Kosmo – the internet can never replace the classroom. We may have virtual classrooms, and webinars, and things like that, but face-to-face learning (in my mind at least) still trumps online education, at least when the going gets tough. It is a great asset to complement offline learning, but as Kosmo said, I don’t think you could expect someone to spend 13 years learning online and then go off and be a productive, normal member of society. Or at least, not everyone could.

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