Online classes more popular
Published: Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 20:08
Online classes are becoming more popular than ever, and many university presidents seem to agree.
New survey data released by the Pew Research Center show that delivering courses online has gained acceptance among college leaders but that the general public still remains unconvinced.
More than half of the 1,055 college presidents who were questioned believe that online education offers a value to students that equals that of traditional classrooms. In contrast, however, 29 percent of 2,142 adults who were surveyed believe that online education measures up to traditional teaching.
College leaders are correct in embracing online education, as it is becoming a popular medium for education in the Internet age. This wasn't always the case, as just 10 years ago, few colleges actually taught courses on the Internet, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Now, we are finally turning a corner with online education. UCF has made significant strides in this area, recently adding a doctoral degree to the College of Nursing that is entirely online. According to UCF Today, more than half of UCF's 56,000 students will take an online or blended class this year.
Online classes provide students with busier schedules to educate themselves around their own schedules. The window that professors for online classes provide for taking tests and quizzes tends to be more flexible than that of a traditional course, which can be very beneficial to someone who has a heavier work schedule and requires this type of flexibility.
According to the Chronicle, Frank Mayadas, founder of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's online-education support program, said that college presidents "should be more visible in making the assertion" that online education is of high value.
"There's a huge amount of misunderstanding of what ‘online' is," Mayadas said. "You ask the man in the street, ‘What do you think of online learning?' and they'll say, ‘You can't just learn by yourself.'"
Changing the perception regarding online classes will be critical in continuing to get more universities to embrace online education. Russell Poulin, deputy director for research and analysis at the Wiche Cooperative for Educational Technologies, makes the same point. He points to an episode of the TV show Glee, in which a character was insulted for having a degree from an online institution, according to the Chronicle.
"You still have a lot of people who grew up in an era where there was very little or no technology in their classroom, so it's very hard to relate to taking a course either partially or fully online," Poulin said. "It's good to see that the presidents – who also did not grow up with technology – are seeing at least some value in online education."
Online classes remain a popular mode of education, and college presidents believe that this type of education will experience significant growth in the future. According to the Chronicle, about half of the presidents surveyed in the Pew poll say that in 10 years, the majority of college students will take at least one course online. They also saw a bright future for online educational tools. In the survey, 62 percent of them said that more than half of students' textbooks will be digital in 10 years, according to the Chronicle.
Online classes are an important medium for students for a variety of reasons. Some may require them due to a busy work schedule, and others may simply find it to be an easier way for them to learn. Universities must embrace this medium, as it is a popular an effective method of educating students.