Updates From The World of Online Education
Kindle Fizzles in University Test Programs with MBA Students
May 19,2010: After trying out the Amazon Kindle reader in test programs at the University of Virginia, Princeton and University of Arizona, MBA student generally say they would not recommend it to incoming students. One student described it as “poor excuse for an academic tool” in a college newspaper article. But there are lots of other e-readers coming that may have more of what students want. Read more about it here.
How Big – And How Accepted – Is Online Learning Right Now?
March 30, 2010: A new study done by the Sloan Consortium, arguably the most respected organization that rates online learning in the U.S., and the Babson Survey Research Group offer some interesting numbers on how many students are taking classes online today, and some conflicting results on what professors think about the quality of those classes.
More than 2,500 colleges and universities responded to a wide variety of questions about the status of American online learning. Among the key findings:
- About 4.6 million students are now taking at least one of their classes online, and the number is growing at about 17% per year – much faster than the growth of school enrollments in general.
- 80% of elearning courses are done 100% online, with much smaller percentages being done through “blended” methods that mix online and live classroom teaching.
- Over 80% of online learners are undergraduate students.
- About 25% of all college class enrollments are online.
- A curious finding – over one-third of all schools have a contingency plan for an H1N1 Flu outbreak that includes boosting online classes.
The most interesting results focused on faculty attitudes toward online learning. Chief academic officers don’t seem to feel that their professors believe in it very much – just 30.9% said they felt their school’s faculty “accept the value and legitimacy of online education.” But over 50% reported that professors are “neutral” about it, which means that just over 17% actively disapprove.The chief academic officers themselves certainly seem positive on elearning: more than 67% of them say they believe that the learning outcomes through online teachers are the same, somewhat superior or superior to traditional classroom learning.
Perhaps one reason professors are less than enthusiastic about online teaching is that they don’t get much help on how to do it. Schools reported that a large percentage of their professors get only “informal mentoring” on how to conduct online classes, and 20% get no training at all. The study is available free here.
City U. Of New York Accelerates Its Associates Degrees
3/29/09: CUNY wants to allow motivated students to complete their associates degrees more quickly, and it’s using a $19. million grant from the city government to try out a special program designed to make accelerated study programs work better. Students at community colleges often take four or more years to finish an associate’s degree program, because many cannot afford to stop working and study full time. There are also high drop-out numbers in these programs. But City University of New York’s “Accelerated Study In Associate Programs” (ASAP) test program is providing financial aid and intense personal guidance and tutoring to try and make these students more successful at the six community colleges in the NY system. So far, the results look good. In 2007, 80% of the students in ASAP staying in their degree programs, compared with a normal retention rate of just 59%.
Read more about New York’s ASAP Degree Program Here
Computer Science Courses Make A Comeback
After declining for years, the number of American students taking computer science courses jumped 6.7% from 2007 to 2008, according to a new study by The Computing Research Association. After a big surge, during the dot com boom of the 1990’s, enrollment in computer courses and computer degree programs dropped as smart students headed for financial studies. The recent implosion of the financial business may be a key reason that tech and engineering studies in general are coming back into vogue. Diversity in computing programs remains weak, however, with just 11.8% of bachelor’s computer degrees going to women – a number that’s held steady for several years. Stanford University reports “amazing growth” in computer course enrollment.
Young Financiers Jump To MBA Programs To Wait Out Recession:
A lot of the bright young lights of Wall Street happen to be out of work right now, due to the collapse of Lehman and the resizing of countless other investment banks. Many of those twenty- or thirty-somethings have good experience and, in many cases, even some of the course credits needed for an MBA under their belts already. After doing some job hunting in one of the worse markets in history, many are deciding that the most sensible thing do to is to head back to school until the financial crisis blows over. Business school administrators tell Fortune that they are getting a huge influx of high quality applicants with job experience right now. That means more competition than ever to get into top MBA programs. If you want to get accepted, they say, don’t say on your application that you see school as a safe harbor in tough times.
Full Story Here.
Weak Economy = High Demand For Online Degrees:
Online schools of all types, from community colleges up to the large, for-profit institutions, are reporting a surge in inquiries from adults who have been laid off and want to “beef up” their resumes. Check out this interesting story from Colorado about why one man is getting a degree from GSU Global Campus in Leadership & Organizational Studies. “There’s a lot of folks out there that want to improve their education and they can’t get back on campus,” says one online school administrator.
Read Full Story Here
The new GI Bill, which will go into effect this August, doesn’t seem to take very favorable stance toward online education. Military folks are big users of elearning, because they’re spread far and wide across the globe, and most are trying to put themselves in position for a new career after their military service ends. But while the new GI Bill helps them with excellent book and tuition benefits if they study 100% online, it denies them one of the biggest benefits granted to others in school: a housing allowance that can amount to more than $1,000. per month. That will only be available to military personnel if they take at least some courses in a live classroom setting. This is likely to pose a significant problem, since soldiers make up one of the largest online student populations (The University of Phoenix and American Intercontinental University, two mainly online schools, have the country’s greatest number of military students, with a combined total of over 20,000). Critics argue that the new rule discriminates against online learners, with one saying “underlying all this … is … a belief that if someone’s full-time distance learning, they’re not working as hard as in brick and mortar.” Read the story here
Distance Learning’s Big Gains In American K-12 Schools:
Most people are aware that online learning has become a major force in higher education, but according to the Sloan Consortium, it’s growing even more rapidly in American K-12 schools. “Blended” approaches that combine in-class learning and distance learning taken at home have become so popular, in fact, that it won’t be long before most high school kids are spending only a few days a week in a physical school – the rest of those days will be spent learning over the internet at home.
The study also points up the growing importance of distance learning to rural school districts, who can’t bring in enough teachers and have students with long distances to travel to school. Sloan’s report, entitled “K-12 Online Learning – A 2008 Follow-up of the Survey of U.S. School District Administrators,” points out that not all teachers and administrators think online learning is a perfect solution. But it shows clearly that it’s a good enough solution that it will continue to grow rapidly in the coming decade. Read this very interesting report here
Snapshot, Online Learning Right Now:
A new national survey by the Babson Research Group and the Sloan Consortium offers an interesting snapshot of where online education is in the U.S. right now. Among the findings of the study:
– The number of students taking at least one online course in 2007 was 3.9 million, a 12% jump from a year earlier.
– Educators believe that higher fuel costs will continue to drive adoption of online learning in the future.
– Schools that have lots of working adults as students believe that rising unemployment will drive growth in their online learning programs.
– About 83% of the students taking online courses are at the undergraduate level – just 14% are taking graduate courses online.
Download a PDF of the study here
Minnesota’s Big Push Into Online Ed:
The governor of Minnesota has realized the same things about online education that about 4 million students have already discovered: it’s cheaper (maybe a better value) than traditional classroom learning and it’s better for career training – because it can reach people who are working now and have a solid idea of where they want to go in their careers. As a result, he’s looking to give a big boost to elearning in the state. Some critics say the upfront costs of building more distance learning options could derail the plan. Read Distance Daily’s article about it:
New Free Worldwide University
This week’s most unusual development comes from Israel, where an entrepreneur is proposing to start a worldwide university, using only online teaching, to provide free education to the entire world. Part of the idea centers around “community” applications that allow students to talk to each other online about what they’re learning – teaching each other, in effect. Educators are a bit skeptical about whether credit can be given for courses delivered this way.
What If Online Learning Isn’t Just As Good As Classroom Learning, But Actually Better?
Two educators have written a new book that says students aren’t really interested in “lecture hall learning,” and that online courses can actually engage them better – if they’re done properly.
Blind Student Earns Online MBA Degree
This story is a testament to the human spirit and to the potential reach of e-learning. 53 year old Lonzo Hall will soon finish an MBA degree online at Virginia College. It might be unremarkable, except for the fact that Mr. Hall is blind. A combination of special computer equipment and cutting-edge software have helped him get through the advanced business courses online. Hall says it is “amazing” how much technology can help a disabled person with their education today. Experts add that the online learning environment may be a real advantaged to disabled students, who might otherwise feel uncomfortable in a live classroom.
College Students Tell Professors To Bug Out Of Their Facebook And MySpace
It seems like one of the guaranteed ways for a college professor to be “cool” these days is to write something about how he or she is using Second Life or some other Web 2.0 app to get into students heads. Well, it looks like the students may not think it’s that cool at all. In fact, in a recent British study, college students said loud and clear that they are irritated by teachers trying to horn in on their favorite websites, particularly Facebook and MySpace, and that they really don’t like to see academic information there.
Distance Learning Grows and Size And Quality
Take a look at the Christian Science Monitor’s update on the growth in online degrees and distance learning. Its author once taught online classes at Brandeis. It’s not just the number of people taking online courses that’s growing, he says, the ways they’re studying is changing too. Among the interesting innovations is the use of Skype to help foreign language students practice by conversing regularly with native speakers.
You Can’t Be Too Young For Distance Learning
One company thinks that even the youngest learners are ready to pursue e-learning. Teachscape Inc. is now offering a new series of courses to help teachers get ready to train pre-kindergarten kids on the literacy skills they will need to be ready for school. Meanwhile, some older kids – aged eight to fourteen – have told researchers that they’re dying to take online courses. Only 7% have actually tried online learning, but over 40% want to engage in distance learning before they finish high school.
You Are Not Alone: Professors Are Also Confused About Online Degrees
A fascinating story turned up today about a college professor who got into some hot water because she got a Ph.D. online from a school that’s considered “substandard” bu the Higher Education Coordinating Board in Texas, where she now teaches college. She spent a pile of money and says she did a ton of work to get a Phd degree in psychology online that her current employer, Lamar University, can’t accept. Luckily, she was actually hired for her current teaching job on the basis of another degree she got at an approved one. If she had been hired because of her unacceptable online degree, she could have not only lost her job but also could have been charged with a misdemeanor.
A Video on College Kids’ Attitudes Toward Their Classes
It’s almost Halloween, so here’s a really scary video made by Kansas State U. students about how valuable they think their high-priced college education is. Generally, they don’t see much value at all. They don’t read much, love to waste all day messing around online rather than doing schoolwork, and don’t think teachers offer anything that will impact their lives. If it’s all such a waste of time, you may ask, why don’t they leave school and do something else. Uh, that would mean working, right?
You Might Want To Learn How To Read Before Going To College
This news isn’t good. The U.S. Department of Ed now says that 40% of kids coming into American colleges need at least one “remedial” course before they can start doing college course work. Little wonder that companies like Blackboard, public universities and government online learning groups are trying to offer more college courses available online to high school kids, in hopes they will improve their “educational preparedness” before they enter higher learning.
According To Capella, the Career Ops Are Now In Education, Gerontology
and Security Management If you want to know where the jobs are, keep an eye on where the major e-learning schools are launching new online degree programs. Capella, the teaching giant based in Minnessota, has just created new degree courses online in Gerontology (caring for the elderly), Early Childhood Education and Security Management. Taking care of old people, teaching very young kids and fighting terrorists are all clearly growth areas. Most of these new programs are for people already working in these areas, who want more advanced skills to get career promotions.
Is There A Limit To How Far Distance Learning Can Grow?
Private colleges and state universities alike are investing big dollars in creating online learning centers. The ones that got in early have already made millions of dollars and attracted tens of thousands of students through it. But now a study from the highly respected Sloan Foundation has put out a report saying that distance learning in America grew just 9.7% last year. While people in most industries would break out the champagne to celebrate that kind of growth, online degree centers see it as weak, given that their growth in the previous year was a whopping 36.5%. It will be interesting to see if online learning can keep growing fast enough to support all the investment that’s being made in it by the private and for-profit schools.
Sloan Awards Single Out America’s Top Online Learning Professionals
The Sloan Consortium has named it’s 20078 crop of leading professors, administrators and schools in the distance learning field. Among the winners: Michelle Pacansky-Brock of Sierra College, for her work in improving online art programs, Maryland Online, for general excellence in developing faculty and programs and St. Petersburg College and Stevens Institute of Technology, who shared and award for best teaching and online learning program.
Another Battle In The War Over Illegal Student Loan Practices
Ever since Andrew Cuomo, New York State’s Attorney General, went after college financial aid offices for taking illegal gifts from student lenders, the colleges have started shutting them out. But now a new group of money-pushers is jumping in, with TV ads and other direct marketing materials to get at students directly. MyRichUncle and other lenders are spending lots of money to pull in college kids who need to borrow. That’s brought new scrutiny from Mr. Cuomo, who complains that LendingTree.com’s claim that it lets multiple banks compete for your student loan business is a cover for a system that actually pushes all students to a single lender. Whether you’re getting an online degree or a traditional education, it’s a good idea to watch out for predatory lenders.
Companies Get Comfortable With Spending On Distance Learning
A hospital in Florida is making a special arrangement with an online training company to send more of their employees to distance learning. The hospital is enjoying a volume discount under this arrangement, but would never go through with it if they were not confident in the quality of online degrees. American companies are now spending over 100 billion dollars on employee training, so expect more of them to get involved in e-learning.
Louisiana Online Students Choose For-Profit Phoenix Over The State University’s
The University of Phoenix is finding that Louisiana likes it. Students are signing up much more rapidly for UOP’s online courses than they are for the University of Louisiana’s. It may be because Phoenix has spent longer learning the customer service skills that help draw in adult learners online.
How Green Was My Online Degree?
Learn the shocking truth: online study uses far less energy and actually produces far less carbon dioxide than classroom based courses. At least that’s what this fun entry from a writer in the UK claims. Who knew the online degrees were environmentally correct?
Don’t Make Your Online Degree More Expensive With A Bad Tax Strategy
If you need to borrow money for e-learning (or traditional college classroom study for that matter) you’ll want to be aware that some approaches to borrowing can cost you a lot less in taxes. Here’s good advice on paying for you education from an expert.
Online Christian Education And The Open Intellect
Christian education via the web is growing rapidly. This representative of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary says that a religious degree should not mean closing your intellect off to the wider secular world. Learn how religious groups are getting smarter about online degrees and study programs.