Online education is rapidly innovating. Education traditionalists may have thought that if courses were to ever go online those without labs would be the first - never did they anticipate that engineering courses might beat the arts to this platform that crosses borders.
Colleges and their online offerings are growing in number; both practitioners and students now have a little more choice and flexibility.
There is also a growing preponderance of shorter courses in the market place, in more niched topics.
Udacity, for example, is an institution that provides online courses and nanodegrees. It has just announced their ‘Flying Cars & Autonomous Flight’ nanodegree.
The course’s landing page - on the Udacity website - details what students will learn during the nanodegree. They promote the following skills, “master autonomous flight software engineering skills”, “drone robotics” and “sophisticated flying car systems”. The students will also learn to write real code for real aircraft.
SpaceX and Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, has been reticent about suggesting that flying cars are the future. He has called them a ‘safety disaster’. In an interview with Bloomberg Business, he said: “Obviously I like flying things, but it’s difficult to imagine the flying car becoming a scalable solution. If somebody doesn’t maintain their flying car, it could drop a hubcap and guillotine you.”
Nonetheless, Udacity’s course deals with cutting-edge drone technology and software that is currently a reality. Students will be well-equipped if they do ever need to test the feasibility of flying cars one day. The tuition for the course is $2,400.
Udacity is just one of many institutions that are providing engineering education across the globe, via the internet. Engineering education is going online because the technology that allows it is here, and that technology is becoming more sophisticated all the time. The Internet of Things (IoT) also facilitates students’ applied learning when they study online.
The Engineering Institute of Technology
The Engineering Institute of Technology is an engineering education provider that began in the classroom, but has, over the years, developed a successful live, online platform of learning. Once upon a time their lecturers flew all over the world for physical workshops, but now the internationally-based lecturers reach EIT students in over 140 countries without moving from their home offices.
EIT has come full circle – they have just opened a new campus in Perth, Western Australia. But they are taking the interactive, online platform that they have built and honed, implementing elements of it into the classroom environment. Mackay says:
“Our qualifications are all offered online. But we now have a campus in Perth, Western Australia, where we will be applying the online model in the classroom. The lecturers will be all over the world, streaming into the classroom. We will also be working with local teachers and lecturers, physically in the classroom. Most importantly, our focus is on the digital world.”
Mackay says EIT is very happy to have their first cohort of students on their campus starting this February. He says that EIT will partner students with further education as their careers change and mature. This is the pattern for many already - EIT’s academic pathways move seamlessly from diplomas and advanced diplomas through to BSc and Master degrees.
Chafkin, Max. “Elon Musk Is Really Boring.” Bloomberg.com, Bloomberg, 16 Feb. 2017, www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-02-16/elon-musk-is-really-boring.
“Flying Cars and Autonomous Flight.” Udacity, www.udacity.com/course/flying-car-nanodegree--nd787.