The Democratization of Knowledge

GSA's Online University is part of the democratization of knowledge fostered by IT.
Technology allows access to more information for more people than ever before in history.  Sounds like hyperbole, but it is actually true.  You may be reading this on a smartphone, in which case you really do have the world in the palm of your hand.

Every year brings new discoveries, inventions, and products that make our personal and working lives easier, increase our productivity, and save money.  The growth of resources available to anyone with Internet access is truly astounding. Better yet, technology has a “democratizing” effect, eliminating barriers and granting access so that new ideas can spread.

Every day, it seems, another barrier tumbles thanks to technology. One terrific example is higher education. Until recently, access to an Ivy League education was only available to those few fortunate enough to be admitted and attend in person. Recently, however, elite schools including Harvard, MIT, Duke and Stanford have begun offering hundreds of courses online for free through sites like Open Culture, EdX and Coursera.  Dedicated to accessibility to education and lifelong learning, these sites also offer audio books, ebooks, movies, discussion forums and language lessons.  Some courses have thousands of participants, from all over the planet. To date, these courses generally do not offer college credit, but there are intriguing developments such as smaller colleges incorporating these online classes into their programs. Forbes suggests that, “Students at lesser colleges may become able to augment their course offerings with top instruction from great professors at prestigious universities.”

At GSA, we have the same outlook.  Our employee-only online portal, GSA Online University (OLU), provides a range of training and development resources aimed at professional and skills enhancement, open to all GSA employees.  OLU offers 2,000 courses on subjects ranging from desktop computer skills to business and professional IT skills, and even compliance training.  Mandatory training courses are offered, and course transcripts are automatically sent to GSA’s Comprehensive Human Resources Integrated System (CHRIS) so employees have a record of their completed training.  OLU also offers online access to numerous books.

GSA Online University allows all of our staff — whether junior or senior, just starting their careers or with years of experience — to benefit from the advantages of continuing education: becoming more marketable in a competitive marketplace, learning different ways of thinking, and expanding community and social relationships.  And, importantly, to gain that knowledge on  a convenient, individual timetable.

Access to information is the gateway to learning.  Technology truly does democratize knowledge.