Digital technology will make education accessible worldwide, says Athabasca University researcher
A quote from Nelson Mandela that he saw early in his career had a profound effect on the research of Athabasca University professor Dr. Mohamed Ally.
“‘Education is the only weapon to change the world.’ That changed my research,” he says of the billboard he saw on a trip to a conference in South Africa. “Whatever I do, I try to do it globally.”
“‘Education is the only weapon to change the world.’ That changed my research.”– Dr. Mohamed Ally, professor of online learning
Technology changing online education
Ally’s research focuses on emerging technologies in online and distance education, particularly mobile learning. While many people around the world don’t have access to computers, they do have mobile devices, which can be a powerful tool for learning, he says.
Technology will be key to making education accessible to all in the future, because it will be impossible to build enough physical schools to teach everyone worldwide who is seeking an education, says Ally.
A university without physical classrooms
“Imagine a university of the future with no buildings and no classroom, where the professor, the instructor, will be anywhere in the world, the students will be anywhere in the world,” he says. Digital technology with help them interact with each other, or with an intelligent agent like a virtual tutor.
Artificial intelligence can also help customize learning for students by examining their learning style, their problem areas, and other data. And it will continue to learn as the student interacts with it.
“What really excites me about all this is we can reach students … so that we can have education for all,” says Ally.