As of 2011, there are more then 6 million students in the United States learning through online education. This is an increase of 560,000 from 2010, a testament to the rapid growth and adoption of online learning.
When we think of online education and the growth of programs, it appears to be happening more inline with student need and demand, than with staff desire and interest. Less than one-third of chief academic officers believe that their faculty accept the value and legitimacy of online education. This percent has changed little over the last eight years. (Allen. Seaman.) It may be that online education is still viewed as an inferior to that of traditional education. This is outdated thinking, the world is highly connected and the youngest generation has never known a world without the Internet and computers. To think that our longstanding education system can continue without changing is committing to a limited future and a population that will be unable to compete globally.
The incorporation of online programs are an opportunity to improve the teacher-student dynamic. New ways to communicate, learn and research, that’s what we are presented through online education. Students today are more connected through online devices that any other age group and are eager to utilize new technologies. Moving education to a platform that takes into account the desire of the students, their need for mental challenges, and an interactive and social environment is a way to drive education into the future.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, “Students in online conditions performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruction.” In consideration of our country’s lack of focus on education this proves to be valuable information. If teachers are not quick to adapt, perhaps there should be public encouragement to do so. Even an incentive program to improve the number of teachers that are implementing online components. If we allow teachers to benefit from the evolution of education, and discourage sticking to tradition, there are unlimited opportunities.
Elaine Allen and Jeff Seaman. The Sloan Consortium. 2011. Going the Distance. http://sloanconsortium.org/publications/survey/going_distance_2011
Langley, Jesse. Edudemic. The changing perception of Online Education. 2011. http://edudemic.com/2011/11/online-ed-perception/