Consequently, we are turning to  online education, because it offers a convenient and affordable way to sharpen our competitive edge.  Yet while these attributes are attractive, the real advantage lies in the learning experience itself.  In fact, well-designed, technology-enhanced courses have proven to be more empowering than their face-to-face only counterparts. 

To begin with, they accommodate the unique needs of individual learners.  One size does not fit all when it comes to creating effective learning environments and activities.  Using digital technology, we can customize both, to connect the dots between what we know, what we need to learn, and how we need to learn it.  

Quality e-education moves the focus from passive teaching to active learning, by exploiting many of the same technologies we use every day.   While interactive technologies like Facebook, Skype, and Twitter have changed the way we live and work, they are also transforming the way we learn, making it easier for us to acquire and retain relevant knowledge, while reinforcing valuable career skills.   

And well-designed virtual learning environments offer unprecedented opportunities to learn by doing, under real world conditions.  With increasingly complex and dangerous problems to address – like super storms, cybercrime, and bioterrorism – “authentic” in-person learning experiences are harder to come by.  But multi-player simulations and remote access technologies provide a unique virtual practice field, complete with real-world scenarios, hands-on applications, and state-of-the-art equipment. 

The case for e-education will only grow stronger, especially as technology advancements give rise to new professional disciplines, such as cyber security or bioinformatics, which are best taught online.  At the end of the day, however, quality learning outcomes and expanded learning options will trump convenience and affordability, driving e-education squarely into the mainstream of higher learning.