Empowering opportunity - Education online

IT is one of the glories of today’s world that technological and communication advances have made the past — and education — far more accessible to everyone.

A broadband connection now confers a kind of universal privilege once confined to those who were lucky enough to be able to afford to pay for a college education and all of the lifelong advantages that conferred. How revolutionary it is that a screen and a keyboard can be so very democratic, that they can be the tide that lifts all boats.

The tsunami of pornography washing over the world may be one of the prices we pay for the internet — as is the death of personal privacy — but the great empowering force of easily accessed online education is a credible counterbalance.

This week, Trinity College Dublin instigated one of the biggest history classes ever offered in this country. At least 17,000 people will take the university’s Massive Open Online Course on early 20th century Ireland. The same course attracted worldwide interest last year.

How appropriate it is that, as the centenary of the 1916 Insurrection comes ever closer, that so many people are interested in those turbulent, formative times. Courses like this cannot but lead to a better understanding of how this society was formed and how the revolutionaries’ legacy is sometimes manipulated for contemporary ends. How all of our forefathers who craved an education would envy us!

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