It’s time to move ahead: Online Education
At University, students stick around even though the teaching may be dreadful, only because they need the degree qualification. However, in Online Education they have the option to leave as soon as they lose interest.
So far, much of the debate between universities around the world and Online Education, has focused on the student dropout rate. It is assumed that completion of online education should be the goal of online learning, and that students who drop out early are failures. Much of the existing publicity around online courses focuses on them as alternatives to an expensive campus university education. It’s hardly surprising that the simplest measure of failure, student dropout, has been picked up by analysts hoping to burst the Online Education bubble.
It’s now time to move ahead. The university system, which has seen plenty of social and technological changes since early times, is not going to crumble in the face of online courses. Instead, something more interesting is happening. In 2009, the US Department of Education published an important study. It reviewed over a thousand evaluations of online learning and found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving classroom education. And, on an average, those students who had a blend of campus and online teaching performed even better.
This digs deeper into the heart of a new debate about online learning and Universities: How can we match online learning with classroom teaching, to create more relevant, engaging and effective education?
In answer to that, this may be possible by extending traditional teaching. Many universities are now recording lectures and making them available to view later. Instead of just attending a lecture, making a few notes, then putting these aside till examinations, students are engaging in online learning outside of class, by reviewing the lecture and collaborating with other students in online assignments.
The other approach is through Online Education. Because this method is quickly gaining popularity and is available worldwide, it is not surprising in these fast paced times that it has attracted a wide range of learners. Most are motivated by curiosity and a desire to learn, rather than the need to gain a qualification. Some register to find out more about Online Education in general, some only want a taste of the topic being taught, some skim through the material to gain an overview of the subject, and some engage fully with the learning. Whatever the reason or motivation may be, many people today are involved in seeking enrollment online.
Online Education will almost certainly not replace university campuses within our lifetimes. However they are finding a much-needed niche, with universities using free courses as a way to attract students onto postgraduate courses or to prepare students for undergraduate degrees. They are still in the process of discovering how online learning can blend with traditional teaching. It’s not surprising that companies and various organizations around the world are now looking to merge online and classroom teaching.