Quality of Online Education

 

You know you need online degree or diploma for any number of reasons, but you have your doubts about the quality of online education. While that’s a legitimate concern, many recent studies have seemed to lay that concern to rest.

 

Previous researches into online education had focused on the negatives, such as high attrition rates. Recent quality researches, however, reveal that online students are not only doing as well as in-classroom students, but in fact, may be doing better.

A 2009 meta-analysis study released by the US Department of Education titled Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning, concludes that: “on the average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.”

The Sloan Foundation 2009 annual survey of online education reports that 68% of chief academic officers of 2,500 colleges and universities polled in the United States reported that the learning outcomes of online courses compared to face-to-face courses were either the same or superior … a significant increase from 2003 when Sloan Foundation began reporting on the quality of online education.

While we still need further studies to explain these conclusions, the US Department Of Education study noted one key element that helps online students to succeed: TIME. “Studies in which learners in the online condition spent more time on the task than students in the face-to-face condition found a greater benefit for online learning,” the DOE study concludes.

From my own experience teaching both online and face-to-face courses over the years, I am beginning to find that more of my online students perform better than face-to-face students.

Some of the reasons may include:

Time (as the DOE study confirms): My online students have access to the instructional materials 24/7. There is no jeopardy for missing a class or two, or being late to class. Students can review materials for as many times as it takes to master them. In the face-to-face classes, if you missed a class, you miss the lecture for that day!

Experiential Learning: Online courses offer more opportunity for experiential learning. I once had a student who was a member of the United States military on duty posting in eastern Africa at the same time we were discussing aspects of East African history and culture. The student provided a fascinating first hand experience account on the topic, which no face-to-face classroom student could have been able to provide.

You could be getting practical experiences at your work place while studying to earn your degree or diploma.

Maturity: It may also be that most online students are more matured. They clearly know what they want, and it is no surprise that they are more serious! They are more self-disciplined and more focused. And you guessed right: employers love those qualities.

Emerging technologies are also significantly enhancing the qualities of online learning. Improvements in technologies like mobile computing (from devices like smart phones to netbooks), electronic books and open content, are proving to be great tools for student productivity, learning, collaboration and communication in online education.

While these observations are no indictment of traditional face-to-face instructions, they clearly show that the credibility and quality of online education are on the rise. And more and more colleges and universities, as well as employers, are recognizing that.

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