The twenty first century presents unique challenges for higher education. Information and educationdetailsonline (ICTs) are seen as the major driving force of the future economies of countries around the world. While complexities of the society are enforcing the need for more education, ICTs are increasingly expanding the reach and range of educational institutions by making it possible to access any course from anywhere in the world and at anytime. They offer the possibility of drawing students from many countries who are studying the same course together at the same time. They also serve both the ‘free market’ (i.e. those markets where people are able and are prepared to pay the full cost of accessing services) and the ‘social market’ (i.e. those in need of on demand education and training, and do not have the resources to access or pay for such services, but who for reasons of both social justice and long term national economic development need basic education, upgrading or retraining).
The scope of education is being dramatically increased from a specialized activity for young people to a lifetime need for everyone. The wealth of nations will depend increasingly on knowledge based high-tech industries. This means that education and trainings are essential elements of the new information age not just in the pre-work years but throughout lifetime. Thus, ICTs offer the promise of not only widening access, but also improving the quality of learning by making it relevant to the skills and knowledge needed in an information society.
What is emerging today is education in four kinds of campus settings:
-Campus based education (conventional universities etc.)
-Dual mode education (Traditional universities offering online courses as well)
-Off campus education (open universities and distance education institutions, etc.)
-Global electronic campus education (virtual universities, electronic based consortia/global networks, etc.)
There has been a tremendous growth and diversity in the number and types of learners, the learning outside traditional classrooms and also in the variety of providers from typical single mode and dual mode institutions (open universities/dual mode universities) with the purpose of increasing the access of corporate organizations to higher education in the aim of upgrading/retraining their workforce.
By using ICTs, formal universities are being transformed into distance learning institutes. They are starting to lecture on and offline to meet the growing pool of part-time students and open another potentiality. On the other hand, distance learning institutes are aiming to make it possible to teach and learn beyond spatial/time limits.
Behavioral and social issues play a huge role in the uptake of online offerings so do the economic issues that rule the implementation of online business models. The learning community would move beyond the classroom walls and would no more be dictated by the classroom schedule. Systems would no longer be age or time based. All boundaries related to distance, time, location of study, age, language, and culture would disappear. Individuals/groups that constitute the learning communities would be able to interact with each other across the globe. In other words, ICTs can personalize the prevailing impersonal studies by making dialogue teaching forms possible, and enabling them to be transmitted via data networks.