What is virtual education?; according to wikipedia: Virtual education refers to instruction in a learning environment where teacher and student are separated by time or space, or both, and the teacher provides course content through course management applications, multimedia resources, the Internet, videoconferencing, etc. Students receive the content and communicate with the teacher via the same technologies.
Is this technology feasible enough to provide education and information to people located in remote areas?, my answer: it depends; depends on both the requirements of the contents to be delivered and the capacity of the machines and means used to receive the information.
Virtual education has many challenges in this global society, for example: institution validity, content quality, content accessibility, telecommunications coverage, etc.
Let’s review some of them:
Institution validity: There are plenty of virtual institutions everywhere on internet, however few of them are really accredited institutions with a strong background, the better way to find out if an institution is accredited or it deserves attention is by means of forums, email, and social networks.
Content quality: how many of those contents are really updated or at least present up to date information?, is there any guarantee that a person educated on internet is being educated with proper contents and information?, I think that mass usage of internet forums, and person to person information is the key to establish some ranks, this is also accompanied by some way of control established by local governments.
Telecommunications coverage: key point, if content is being delivered via internet, basic telecommunications coverage is needed if not, then that content will have no purpose.
Distance learning is not new, it is been in place for decades, before modern communication technologies it was delivered by certified mail, radio, and television; so internet and computers are only a new weapon in this arsenal of means to reach remotely located people and provide them with proper contents.
This is why I emphasize on contents, new technologies should enrich as much as possible the learning experience and provide top class content quality.
So, virtual education is only an evolution of that old distance learning, an evolution marked by computers, internet and new communication technologies, and that is why I consider that virtual education not only will be feasible but entirely capable of doing the job, let’s face it, if traditional mail and radio was able to provide educative contents in the past, why modern technologies can’t?
So yes, it will be feasible for virtual education to deliver contents as long as those contents are properly designed and the information is supported by accredited institutions, certified professionals and it serves the purpose of teaching something new or reinforce something already known.