Education functions as an important institution of learning and change. It offers an opportunity for students to move into depth on particular concepts and then raise that knowledge through research so that a nation we continue to move forward. Education that takes place before education should focus more on the ability to function broadly in society as well as contain enough nuggets for future trade work or higher education. As a value generator for society higher education can raise knowledge for more scientific-industry development as well as higher order thinking that leads to leadership and a better life. Research, whether online or on ground, is important for national innovation and is an important part of university life.
Consider the many minds that create a powerful nation. Innovation allows us to develop products, fight pollution, improve on our national structure, and raise the value for shareholders. It also allows us to improve the lives of our citizens as well the quality of life through better understanding of how we as a species live and interact with our physical and virtual world.
The more we know the better our policies will be. The cloudy thinking of poor judgement gives way to a more evidence based system of thinking. Critical thinking becomes part of the method of evaluating complex situations.
Whether one is an online university or a ground based university there will be an increasing need for science for industries, government policies, and just about every other facet of life. That doesn't mean we don't take chances and try new things but we accept that these are risks and could very well lead to new ways of doing things if researched and seen through a critical eye.
We talk sometimes about enlightened societies and science must be part of that society. That doesn't mean religion can't help us explain our world and understand things that we do not understand but that science is an important method of discovering the intelligent design around us. We know that science, innovation, and values can lead to better societies through incremental improvement and better decision making.
I suggest that universities do more to prepare students for a world of science and big data. With education people can further understand the esoteric nature of religion and science in the discovery of our place in this vast universe. We are not talking only industry but the advancement of the human species to something more capable of grasping the next space frontiers and reaching beyond the moon while still improving our lives here through stronger economic and ecological growth. National innovation comes from the many projects and studies that develop new insight and adaptations.