The glorious era of old print media dominance is over, and the era of cyberspace has taken over. The proliferation of Information Technology has given rise to the newest bloodless revolution in mankind in the field of knowledge and information dissemination, the Internet. The Internet is a network that provides quick and effortless access to the largest global information database available, the World Wide Web. When tapped correctly, the internet has the potential to become one of the most valuable and stimulating educational tools available to the multitudes, and its recognized merits as such are one too few. I therefore do not agree with the statement that the Internet is overrated or its merits, chief of which are the unparalled efficacy of its research and news capabilities, are celebrated without reason.
Information of practically everything in existence can be found and retrieved on the internet at the touch of a button, providing for knowledge to literally be at our fingertips. There is a wealth of valuable research information available online which most internet users have free access to, allowing the net to act as a cheap and easy to use information source for the masses. While the library once opened the doors to knowledge and information, its necessity now has been eliminated almost in its entirety by the advent of fast speed Internet transmission of information, paving the way for academic institutions such as universities, governmental bodies and established organizations like Time Magazine and the Gates Foundation to create web portals and store and share information online. High-powered search engines like Google now have the capacity to search millions of pages of text in such websites in a fraction of a second, thereby speeding up the often grueling research process students and researchers edure greatly. The recent introduction of online print and other visual media libraries is in fact a testament to the pulling power and attractiveness of using the internet, and it has further reduced the need for physical travel to traditional libraries, all the while needlessly worrying about the availability of crucial books or the opening hours, especially when racing to finish up research work.
Net conferencing or web video conferencing is one way the Internet can be used for two or more-way dialogues between university professors and students who reside on the other side of the world for information exchange through question and answer sessions, effectively disregarding the constraint of physical location that would otherwise inpede education. The Internet thus imparts knowledge indirectly by acting as a portal where intellectual minds can convene and debate on issues pertaining to their respective fields. Such information transfer has undergone technological advances to the extent that virtual schools have been set up on the web offering students online degree courses, and an increasing number of well-established universities are jumping on the bandwagon, replacing distance learning by mail with internet education. The University of London is a prime example of a university that offers the option of pursuing online Bachelors and Masters Degree courses to international students from the comfort of their own homes.
Online education is also a concept that is currently used by many schools in Singapore, where a week or two of formal classroom education is replaced by online education, called e-learning, and the importance of students utilizing the internet for online education purposes and becoming net-savvy is stressed by the schools as well as the Education Ministry. Due to the successive mass implementation of this project, Singapore is the first country in the South-East Asian region to have plugged all its junior colleges and tertiary institutions to the internet. Online education is also used by non-governmental, private, tuition centers where a student communicates with his tutors and takes lessons online, a convenient way for busy students to reduce transport time to centers, yet still enroll for tuition lessons.