(this interview is announced at Medium)
At the start of the 21st century, the rapid expansion of the Internet, the Web drastically changed how we buy things and entertain ourselves. It has also changed the learning and the education process itself (think of the days before you could Google anything!). Electronic learning or e-learning became very popular among students around the world, but it also allowed people of all ages and interest to self-educate themselves on various topics.
Aleksandra Arsik is the Owner of the e-learning portal Cultus.
1. When did you decide to start the web portal Cultus?
The concept of establishing Cultus came after I finished my Masters’ studies in Communication in 2010. Three years later, in 2013 I was ready after I attended the WordPress training and consolidated the resources for Cultus online posting.
The idea was to promote the e-learning and make it more accessible to wider audiences. The pages of Cultus do not contain only online resources where you can find the most popular e-learning tools and options. It has over 1400 original blog posts from writers all over the world, who write about their learning experiences, educational resources they use, as well as the overall learning community feedback on their needs and future plans.
I have plans to make it e-learning hub for e-learning news, blogs and IT e-learning resources, but this is still a work in progress that I look forward to.
2. How important is the digital education today and can it change the way people learn?
The importance is very significant. Depending on the level of country’s resources or investors interest, it takes larger or smaller part of the education or life-long learning processes. What is valid is the fact that it expands and it is not taken for granted. It is interlaced with the traditional manners of learning for all ages.
We experience a daily increase of online educational resources in the form of applications, online testing of knowledge, exchange of educational resources and flipping the classrooms at all levels.
Not that it has just changed the way we learn, but it also makes the learning more interesting, mobile and interactive. With the development of the virtual reality, learning will be even more interesting, as we will be able to see the content we learn in front of us as real, which is going to make learning fun in addition to the educational segment.
The e-learning is taking a significant place in Macedonia and the Balkans. Every training centre or educational institution, which cares about its reputation, invest in this type of content and structure. The financial segment of this investment is also important and somehow obstacles, as the Balkans are relatively modest in financial resources, but we keep the step with the trends. It is very positive that there are numerous free online learning resources in English, which can be translated and adapted, so this is alleviation in the process.
With the increase of the people’s standard, if the Western Balkans alliance is created in trade and customs, we can expect growth in the e-learning segment. The European Union also has significant support from the H2020 funds, which can be used for the e-learning development with partners from the EU countries. We all hope for the best in this industry development.
4. Can new technologies, such are smartphones and apps, help younger generations in everyday learning?
By all means, they can and they are helping. But, we always have to have in mind that moderation is the key to its utilization, like any IT tool use. Overdoing of IT use is not good for our health.
There are numerous online interactive games that make learning better understood and interesting. Adults also learn better if the visual online curriculum is presented, so the benefit of using smartphones and IT tools can be seen in all groups of learners.
Schools are accepting the trend of “bring your own device” and the pupils have the better understanding of what they learn if they visualize it, or solve a problem through “a game” in an app.
Older learners enjoy the benefit of sharing the learning content, interactive participation at the class with e-learning resources, as well as making the best of use of the free and paid courses, university studies of further educational improvements.
5. Bitcoin and blockchain are the future of the economy in the world — how much are they present in your country?
I personally do not see these as the future of the economy. They might be a bubble boosted by speculative geek’s games and not having a Central bank, makes it even more unreliable. The last bitcoin will be dig in 2032, according to Wired magazine, but what worries everybody, even more, is the consumption of energy it takes to find and solve the algorithm. Currently, the energy consumption of digging the bitcoins is like the whole of Serbia!!
I know several people who are involved in this bitcoin “fever”, but cannot tell about the number of people who deal with its trade or use it on a country level. It can be “easy” money for “math geeks”, but easy money can come and go. If one has a hazardous spirit, one will definitely give it a try.
Electronic currency is something completely different.
6. What are your three top suggestions to anyone who wants to start with online education?
It depends on what one wants to learn or study. Open resources are Udacity, Khan Academy and Udemy. On these three platforms, there are free resources in literally hundreds of thousands of courses to uplift your spirits and help you gain knowledge from every single area of learning.
Top universities are investing more in supporting their online enrolments and studies and make it equal to the campus studies. There are a lot of options here, as well.
if I was starting to make the selection of what interests me most I would make Google do the work, by creating an alert on the keywords that interest me most and area that I want to study. These alerts come in one’s inbox and it saves you time in searching the web.
Cultus Online also gives advice to learners, depending on their preferences, so one can feel free to contact us.