We No Longer Go Online, We Live Online
Yes, we’ve heard it all before. We’re being overtaken by technology. We outsource all cognition to our phones or Google. We shop online and apply for jobs online. We even look for love online.
While some might grumble that the internet is having a negative impact on our lives – our attention spans are shorter, we’ve forgotten how to multitask, and we’re getting less sleep – it’s important to remember that the online space also encourages creativity and collaboration. It affords lots of wonderful possibilities and opens doors to previously out-of-reach opportunities.
The “iTunes of education”
It’s with great interest that I’ve been watching the rise of MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses. They’ve been described as the “iTunes of education”, and have been turning traditional education models on their head. As a move to democratise education, MOOCs give free access to quality online education from some of the most famed institutions in the world. If you have an internet connection, you can sign up. Students don’t receive credit points or degrees, but can complete an engineering or science course from Yale, Columbia, Stanford, and of course, MIT. With more and more Australian universities signing up to MOOCs each year, it’s clear that they’re here to stay.
Digital health care
While e-health records haven’t necessarily received the best rap as of late due to issues of privacy and data-breaches, digital health care certainly has a lot to offer. Online access to health records could change traditional doctor-patient relationships, as patients are more informed and have better control of their treatments. Healthcare and fitness apps that encourage patients to lead a healthier lifestyle using clinically tried-and-tested methods could save health systems huge sums of money. And remote monitoring technology for high-risk patients could also save millions, as Australia’s healthcare system struggles to keep up with the number of patients suffering from chronic diseases.
Business in the online space
Last but not least, the online space opens up many opportunities for businesses who are competing for attention and for customers. A business that goes online receives instant exposure to a global, ever-growing audience. They can keep their doors open 24/7, and build their brand, their voice and their authority by speaking to more customers in more ways, all the time. It gives the little guys a chance to play on an equal footing with those that are more established.
So while you might feel like switching off and unplugging from time to time, it’s important to remember that the internet offers much more than likes, swipes and tweets. It’s an ever-expanding online space that’s changing every day. So make sure you keep up.