(Translation by Erik J. Robles)
Online education is a way to specialize in an accessible and simple way; However, it remains to be seen whether Internet education is the answer to the shortcomings of the current system. Online education has created the possibility of completing a course or simply taking a diploma or regular course in a more accessible and simple way. The greatest advantage is the ability to avoid traveling large distances, thereby incurring lower costs. "Online education or e-learning is gaining more and more acceptance and extends both in the field of formal training (that is provided in institutes, universities, academies and schools) and in the field of corporate training (facilitated by Companies to their employees for their improved performance and professional evolution)", explains Fernando Calderón, Director of Marketing and Public Relations of OCCMundial. Data from eLearning Industry.com indicate that in 2011, spending on online education around the world reached 35,600 billion dollars; Now spending is estimated at 56,200 billion, and could double by 2015. In Mexico, this type of access to education presents uncertain conditions:
Advantages "Online education is an industry that is going to revolutionize in the years to come. Learning will become much more practical and specialized with the help of the Internet. Although traditional education will not be completely abandoned, hybrid education, with a transcendent participation in e-learning, will be what dominates, "says Daniel Marcos, CEO of Growth Institute in an interview with Forbes Mexico. In addition, 74.3% of Mexican cybernauts are under 35; the young people are the ones who make the most use of technology, and also the first to adopt them.
The price is another point in favor of E-learning.
Almost anyone can access this type of education. "It is not the same to pay 2,000 pesos for a classroom course, only to wait a few weeks and to take the same course online for 100 or 200 pesos," says Daniel Marcos.
In terms of Internet access, Mexico is surpassed by Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica and Uruguay, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI).
This is reflected in the Household Survey on Availability and Use of Information Technologies of April 2013 conducted by INEGI in coordination with the Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT), which notes that although there has been progress in the penetration of Internet use in the country, 64.2% of households have no computer and 69.3% have no Internet connection.
On the other hand, the bandwidth, something fundamental in Online education, Is something that is just beginning to grow in the country. Figures from the Ministry of Communications and Transport show that only 11% of Mexicans have access to this technology, and data from The Competitive Intelligence Unit reveal that 15% of users have medium connectivity of between 1 and 2 Mb, hardly adequate for playing videos in high definition.
In addition, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) notes that broadband services in Mexico are expensive and the speeds offered are very slow compared to the average of the countries that make up the organization.
Online education in Mexico represents an opportunity to specialize in what is not yet fully developed. Although there are platforms offering online and diploma courses that present the advantages of this way of learning, there is still a lag in Internet access.
Daniel Marcos believes that maybe hybrid education, with an increasingly important stress on e-learning, will end up dominating this field.
An example of online education
Mejorando.la is an example of the technological advance in online education for specialization. This platform offers online courses for development, web design, digital marketing, UX design and mobile development. The areas in which it performs are marketing, communication and design.
The project was born two years ago as a set of platforms called Masters of the Web, created by Christian Van Der Henst Y John Freddy Vega. It was basically a platform to discuss technology issues. This caught the attention of more people interested in the subject, and in December 2012, they launched the first courses for web professionals. "Thanks to the people's great acceptance, the platform began to establish itself securely" says Miguel Nieva, Country Manager of Mejorando.la in an interview with Forbes Mexico.
For Miguel, being a professional means being open to many ideas and perspectives. "The Internet has been a great equalizer, an important tool to streamline processes and improve the quality of life for many people through information. Professional success is linked to technology. In the courses of Mejorando.la, it starts with the teacher-student and student-student link, where the participants post their questions in a chat, or debating completely live, online" he explains.
Even students can develop projects and have them linked to companies. Many of the teachers and part of the branding at Mejorando.la have agreements and can follow up on student projects and support them.
Mejorando.la has been the result of its community's contribution to create functional and accessible products, which according to the vision of Miguel, has seen growth and become the basis for its acceptance in Mexico. "Our main market is Mexican. We seek to approach universities, companies and participate in more events. At the strategy level, we are very clear that the country has great talent. It lacks working in groups and team-building. "Mejorando.la seeks to be a coach and create more web professionals" Miguel states.
Part of the objectives of the project was to reach participants from all over the world, something that has been achieved with students from Latin America, the United States, Norway, Romania, France or England, as well as the expansion to countries like Peru and Chile.
Providing an easy and accessible specialization is the philosophy of Mejorando.la. The challenge is not simple in a country like Mexico with the advantages and disadvantages of Internet access, but new laws on telecommunications and the best tools will be very helpful for them to achieve their goal.
Only for professionals?
The question remains whether online education is an alternative to change the social landscape or if it serves only as a tool for those who already have some level of professionalism.
An IBM report says that companies using e-learning tools have the potential to increase their productivity by 50%. It is also estimated that every dollar invested by these companies has a return of 30 dollars in benefits associated with increased productivity. In addition, it is estimated that 25% of employees who leave their job leave a company where they have no opportunity to learn new things.
On the other hand, a study conducted by the Complutense University of Madrid points out that inequality can be exacerbated by new technologies. There are even warnings from organizations such as the European Commission or UNESCO that, in the future, they will be able to distinguish different technological societal models, just as at present there are different industrialized societal models.
"The key will be in the degree to which social exclusion is avoided and new opportunities for disadvantaged people are created; Otherwise nations or social groups with limited Internet access could be left further behind. "