E-learning: What Next?

Online education provides a quality alternative to on-the-ground degree programs. It offers students and working professionals greater flexibility as to time and place. Most programs are offered asynchronously, meaning students and professionals can take them at any time of the day or night. According to recent research, more than 70% of individuals think e-learning or online education is good for their careers. The researchers find that the outcomes from online courses, diplomas, and programs are equal to or better than those of traditional counterparts.

How many people are part of e-learning?

More than 5 million students or 25% of all university and college students are registered in online education degree programs according to the National Center for Education Statistics. 11% of students registered exclusively in online education programs. 14% registered in some traditional and some online education programs. Enrollments in online degree programs have been growing much faster in recent years at public and private universities.

Tons of colleges offer online programs

Almost all colleges and universities with enrollments of 5,000 students or more offer online education/e-learning programs. 80% of those with enrollments of fewer than 5,000 students offer online education. At the smaller colleges, these may be completely online programs or a part of a traditional program. Many colleges and institutes are adding online education diplomas, courses, and programs to their portfolio.

MOOCs (massive open online courses) have not replaced either on-the-ground or online programs that charge tuition. Only 8% of higher education institutes currently offer MOOCs.  MOOCs offer access to a wide variety of programs and courses from some of the best faculty and institutes in the country; numerous institutes that don’t offer MOOCs are incorporating them into their curriculum as they are free.  Some MOOCs are now charging students and working professionals who want certification.

There are also physical institutions

E-learning also offers traditional brick and mortar institutes with the ability to expand their program. It allows students easy access to majors and diplomas from other institutes during the academic year.  This takes the burden off of institutes for providing as broad an array of programs as they needed to in the past. It also offers an opportunity for institutes to run their academic courses and programs more economically. In addition, many traditional universities are offering more online diplomas and programs. That way, students who wish to study abroad for a term can still get required programs from their home campus, as well as during the summer.

All will agree that the experience of taking degree programs online versus in a classroom is different and both types should continue to be offered. I forecast that the day will soon come when we will not differentiate programs and courses by their teaching modality. Companies and others will not ask whether the degree program was online or in person. Online degree programs will continue to expand access to education to those individuals without the time or money to attend a traditional on-the-ground class as well as to those who prefer this modality.

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