Will the Internet replace the role of school in the future?
To some degree, yes, but probably not entirely.
Schools today are already becoming more and more technology-based. In my own brief lifetime, I have witnessed this shift. Whereas blackboards and pencils were the norm in my elementary-school years, many teachers in my school now rely on projectors for presenting their lessons, and some students take notes on their computers rather than on paper. Before, the entire class had to take a trip to the computer lab if we were working on a research project; now, every student in the school is issued a Chromebook (thanks to a grant from Google) that they can bring to every class and to their homes. Cell phones were once strictly prohibited, but at this point teachers just assume that everyone has one and they occasionally give assignments that require the use of a smartphone. In elementary school, I learned cursive and how to write a bibliography in the correct order, but I don't think either of those skills is taught to children anymore. A lot of assignments now are turned in electronically, something that my school didn't start doing until I was already about a year into high school, but kids at all grade levels are now doing it.
The role of the Internet in education is certainly growing, but I think it's very unlikely that school will cease to exist. Having teachers and peers to interact with is still an important aspect of learning, and it always will be. Without someone there to guide them, many children would not use the Internet for learning, and the result would be a less-educated population. I do think it's possible, however, that class sessions may move from the classroom to the screen, since things such as online college enrollment are also a growing trend, and communicating with people over long distances is something that is only getting easier as time moves forward.
Super interesting question.
So, around 2000 or so, I read a scifi book which I'm tempted to think was Cyber Way by Alan Dean Foster but on further reflection might have been one of the other books I purchased on that trip (and absent the ability to quickly thumb through it, do not rely on this to be correct) which posited a near future (roughly now from the perspective of the book) in which "school" had been replaced with something known as "the sosh" (pronounced as in the first syllable of "social").
At the sosh, kids hung out with kids in their age cohort, they learned manners, how to work and play well with others, mundanities like how to shop and make change, how to navigate in a city, what to do if you're lost. It provided an environment in which young humans were socialized to others, guided and mentored through their maturation into functional adults capable of taking their place as productive citizens in society.
Learning? Like actual education? All done on computers, with AI based learning instructors who compensated for different learning styles, rates, capacities, areas of interest, etc.
I can easily see something like that coming into play from a functional perspective. Today, with MOOCs, anyone anywhere with an Internet connection can learn anything from very nearly the best qualified person to teach it. That's a huge, huge step from oral tradition learning where one must literally sit at the feet of the master to advance.
Practically, it's got promise. But I don't think it's going to happen. The biggest issues are alllll those unionized educators, the politicians who are under fire from parents appalled at falling test scores who are trying to "do something" (meaning "hey, I passed legislation! woo!") and the various industrially institutionalized groups who have an interest in not only keeping education the way that it is today, but "increasing funding", meaning much, much more of the same.
In today's high-tech classrooms, teachers have to be equal parts educator and I.T. specialist. They not only have to know their content, but also how to integrate, operate, and troubleshoot advanced equipment and computer programs. Teachers are constantly adapting to stay current, but will technology eventually take over the entire classroom?
There are many reasons why schools would opt for technology over teachers. First and foremost, buying and implementing technology is more cost-effective than hiring classroom teachers. Computer programs and Internet services do not require healthcare, retirement benefits, professional development, or pay raises.
Furthermore, technology can save educational institutions from legal headaches such as teacher unions and lawsuits. Even though schools perform extensive background checks, they still face the stigma and media attention brought on by teachers who commit crimes and engage in inappropriate behavior. By getting rid of teachers, schools could spend more time and money on education and less on litigation.
Can a computer program really fulfill all of the roles of a teacher?
Technology is also tempting because it can help cut down on the expense of traditional brick-and-mortar buildings. By offering online learning experiences, schools can educate students off campus-thus saving money on facilities and maintenance. Additionally, online coursework can provide greater curriculum choices to students in rural or remote areas.
Another incentive for schools to use technology is the ability to offer students a flexible education experience. Online universities already allow students to "attend" courses at night and on the weekends. It's hard to find teachers that will do the same.
Technology is a great way to offer educational services to students, but it still has its limitations. No matter how "smart" a product or computer program is, it can't compare to the knowledge and life experience that a teacher brings into the classroom. A teacher can use this background to help the student make real-world connections and see a subject from a different perspective.
Educational technology usually takes a one-size-fits-all approach to learning that doesn't account for learning differences or students with special needs. By contrast, a teacher can present material in a variety of ways and modify curriculum to meet the needs of each student.
When using technology, students' knowledge is usually evaluated through standardized tests. However, classroom teachers use both formal (tests, quizzes, essays, etc.) and informal (observation, discussions, student questions, etc.) assessments to determine if a student has mastered a concept.
Finally, there are usually no alternatives when electronic products break down or Internet connections are lost, and they can be expensive to fix and replace. Technology only educates students if they can use it, but a teacher can adapt a lesson and continue teaching even if her projector is broken or the Internet is down.
While the role of technology in education is steadily increasing, it is more likely that it will continue to be used as a supplement to teaching rather than an alternative to teachers. In fact, currently available online universities and virtual academies still employ educators to create lessons, mediate discussions, and evaluate student progress. These interactions between students and teachers are an important part of the learning process and help students become productive members of society. Even the best learning products and services can't replace the invaluable life lessons taught by a dedicated teacher.
I have a toddler, he goes to preschool while his mother and I work. You know what I have learned in the past couple of years that I have been in charge of a two year old? They can come to things on their own but if you structure learning they can grow much faster. Also from my own studies and career I know that without structure my learning is haphazard and distracted. There are people who are independent and self-motivated for learning but I am not one of them, I need someone to tell me what to do so that I can get it done. Sure, there are study guides online which tell you what to learn next but I am too easily distracted.
All the psychology and innovation flies in the face of thousands of years of teaching experience which says that structured learning is good. Sure, there are some people who work better in self-directed study and sometimes the pressure might cause some people issues, but don't try and tear up the whole system because it doesn't work for a few. What about me? Don't I get what I need? Structure?
In my opinion schools are very necessary, or at least structured guided study with human interaction and discipline. We don't all have private tutors and parents who can be there all day to support us in person, so a school is a good social environment to bring children together to learn.
The internet can provide a medium to assist that learning and support people who cannot get to a school for whatever reason and that is great.
Despite this already happening (online home schooling and online college courses), this type of schooling could grow even more to the point where everyone could go to school online in the comfort of their own home.
Schools currently uses so many technology to the point where they are dependent on it. For example, just about all classrooms now have projectors and Elmos, so instead of using the chalkboard or a whiteboard, teachers can instead sit down and write.
The Internet will not replace schools. The internet is being used more and more in the classroom. It is a wonderful resource.
On-line classes are a great alternative for students of all ages. My district has created a bunch of on-line classes to help students earn units and meet requirements over the summer.
Technology is going to continue to positively impact schools in the future. Technology can bring most subjects alive-especially science!