We live in a world where fully accredited online universities exist. That is truly amazing, even unthinkable just a few decades ago. Before it could happen, there were a number of technical hurdles to overcome.
First, we had to wait until computers were powerful enough to process real time audio and video on machines that people could afford. Processors had to get fast enough. RAM had to get cheap enough. And storage had to get plentiful enough. That was still insufficient to make online education a reality.
We also had to wait on audio and video hardware to be advanced. Back in the good old days, or the bad old days, however you prefer to remember them, even good webcams transmitted video at only a few frames per second. Color accuracy was not even an afterthought. Computer audio was so bad that a huge aftermarket for audio cards developed. If you wanted to do anything interesting with audio, you had to purchase and install a decent audio card. Today, you can produce professional audio and video with the built-in subsystems of even budget computers.
But perhaps the biggest technological hurdle to be overcome was the availability of the Internet, particularly, high-speed Internet. This was not just a technical hurdle, but a business model barrier put up by the carriers and cable companies. They had no real incentive to make higher speeds available. They could already charge as much as they wanted and we could do nothing about it. A long time would pass before bandwidth was plentiful and inexpensive enough for us to bring institutions of higher learning online.
But higher learning is not the only thing the Internet is good for. There are also the institutes of lower learning. I do not mean to imply education that is less important. Rather, I refer to education that does not terminate in a degree, but a certificate or license. I am referring to the world of trade and craft. This is the world once dominated by years of on premise apprenticeship. Today, it can be done with a 400 tablet from your parent’s basement.
Here is a look at a few real skills you can gain from virtual training:
Learn to Play an Instrument
There was a time when piano lessons were tedious. Straighten your back! Relax your wrists! Put your hands just so! Whack! goes the ruler. Now do it again, and do it right this time! Maybe not all experiences were like that. But one thing all experiences had in common was that the student and teacher had to be present in the same room, on the same bench, in front of the same piano.
Guitar lessons were the same way. If anything, the guitar is an even more tactile instrument because it has to be held while being played. Hand position is everything. Before the advent of online learning, this skill simply could not be taught any other way. Today, you can go online and get free guitar lessons. With the Jamplay guitar training service, you can even get your money back if you subscribe and are not satisfied. That is just one more thing you couldn’t do in the days of on-premise music lessons.
Learn to Repair Your Car
There was a time when the ancient knowledge of automobile maintenance was passed down from father to son. It really was that limited. If you happened to be a daughter, you should carry the number of a good mechanic with you at all times. Those were definitely the bad old days.
Today, even boys are growing up without the ritualistic passing on of ancient knowledge. Schools are less likely to have any type of mechanics program. And there is only so much you can learn from books. Add the fact that cars are far less mechanical and more computerized than ever before, and we have a crisis on our hands. There is a shortage of normal people who can do basic maintenance on their vehicles.
Thanks to online auto repair courses, the crisis is averted. This is a boon for anyone who has ever felt like they didn’t really own their auto because basic repairs were beyond them. Such training decreases the chances of becoming stranded or financially inconvenienced due to something as simple as a flat tire. With the kind of auto repair skills you can get online, you may not be able to build a car from a box full of parts. But you should be able to be a more confident and responsible car owner.
Learn Anything from Free to Fee
I am experiencing a failure of imagination trying to come up with things you cannot learn online. At the moment, I’ve got nothing. You can learn just about anything you could want to know, all for the price of free.
One of the best video learning tools is YouTube. The videos range from things you always wanted to know, to things you wish you could unsee. Almost every corner of YouTube is free. Equally free is iTunes U. iTunes U is something like an online university that is exclusive to Apple products. If it is taught at a major university, there is probably an entire course for it freely available on the service.
Linda.com is a video learning site that greets you with the question, “What do you want to learn today”. It is a fair question as you can learn everything tech from learning out to use Logic Studio to Photoshop. These courses are all produced by trained professionals active in the field. Linda.com is subscription-based.
There are more accessible ways to learn online than there are in the real world. Thanks to the Internet, you don’t have to know someone who can teach you the guitar, or auto maintenance, or Photoshop. You can learn what you want, when you want, and with whatever degree of structure you choose. The virtual classroom has taken away any excuse we once had for insufficient skills.