We have come far in our quest for education. The journey of knowledge and exploration is quite fascinating and deeply speaks about the interconnectedness and the interdependence of the world.
As human beings discovered things and experienced life as it happened, they felt a need to record the outcomes so that the information could be passed on from one generation to the other. This would not only save time but also effort on part of the upcoming generations, so that they could focus their energy on other important matters. Thus, came the drawing and writing on cave walls. The History of Education Timeline states "it is possible that the cavemen had schools for their children but it is highly unlikely." Through the discovery of papyrus the information in the caves was later transferred on rolls. Then these scrolls were probably stored in the great library of Alexandria, until it was destroyed by fire. Similarly, other forms of written instruments were used to document knowledge nuggets around the world.
Historical evidence suggests Iraq, India and China had formal schooling systems way before the United States was discovered. In India the organized schooling system was called the "Gurukul" system of education, and the first ever university was established at Nalanda in the year 5 CE. This was a first residential university that attracted scholars and students from faraway lands like Tibet, China, Korea etc. In addition, it had the capacity to serve 10,000 students with 2000 teachers. This information validates that people from the beginning of time have recognized that knowledge is important for sustenance and humanity needs to be interconnected and interdependent to achieve the same.
Ideas were conceived, thought about and discussed in many countries of the world, especially Greece where teachers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and their students sat in open air space to contemplate topics and record discussions. The Socratic method of teaching is still used by academics around the world and many schools are highly influenced by Plato's thoughts on education and classification of society. On the other hand, Aristotle's idea about the practical approach to education still holds true and is a major requirement of our generation.
After the birth of the printing press somewhere in the year 1041, the pursuit for knowledge picked up momentum. Later on with major universities like Harvard and similar being setup, the Industrial Revolution, hunger for knowledge kept growing. People from around the world decided to study at such esteemed institutions and as a result many great thinkers were raised during this time, whose ideas and philosophies are still in practice in this modern day and age.
Blackboards, portable slates, fountain pens, pencils, paper, standardized testing all followed one after the other. A major break through in knowledge exploration happened with the advent of the Internet and the invention of personal computers, I Pads, I Pods, and I Phones. Seeking knowledge became easier, faster and portable than ever before.
The technological revolution brought entire humanity closer than one can imagine. Dissemination of knowledge became quicker, and cheaper. Books went online, and so did the universities with MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses). Google became a universal tool for finding information fast. It can be comfortably said that anyone with Internet access is empowered today. Students are no longer dependent on their teachers, family members or the society alone to answer their curiosity. They have access to a whole domain of information on the World Wide Web: Khan Academy is an example of the same.
In the olden days, books were transported back and forth or stored in libraries to communicate ideas of great thinkers but now with the Internet, information is dispensed in a millisecond from the comfort of one's home. Similarly, languages were hard to decipher but today people from around the world can simply log on and learn any language basics without spending much money. With the help of Google translator they can also convert their thoughts into a variety of languages. Even though, the translator is not hundred percent accurate, it still conveys the essentials of a given thought.
A lecture given by Indian spiritual guru like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Surat can be downlinked in real-time in San Francisco. Uploading pictures instantaneously via camera phones on to our Facebook profiles for our friends and relatives in faraway land and having immediate feedback makes us feel connected truly and completely. Learning how to cook different cuisines using Youtube and without visiting other countries or consulting cookbooks is yet another example of how the Internet has radically transformed our lives.
In academe, teaching a group of students that are placed in different time zones through a virtual class session is another case of interconnectedness that the Internet has brought in our lives. Looking for jobs never got easier. Even though, job markets are rough, if we have a decent Internet connection we always win. We can apply for jobs based on our preferred region of work. Sometimes, we may even stumble upon opportunities that we are unaware of. Linked In is yet another powerful tool in lives of working professionals today. Back in the day, our ancestors did not have this privilege.
Our lives have gone digital. Everything we do these days is mostly an online affair. We read news, check our e-mails, edit and post pictures, watch videos, and use Internet applications like Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp and Skype to connect with our near and dear ones on a daily basis. Our favorite shows, movies, books, quotes can all be found online. We can get hours of self-help therapy, fashion and fitness tips, friends and support groups, long lost relatives and in some cases, we can even locate the history of our ancestors to bring much meaning in our life. The interesting fact about all of this is that most applications on the Internet are free or charge a nominal price.
The Internet has not only connected us, and shown us that it is the thread that binds us into interdependence and interconnectedness, but it is also our flag of hope. It helps us to identify that we are not alone. As long as we have the Internet, we are winners. However, this power of the Internet needs to be used with great caution. If not, it can wreak havoc.