A NPR Story on Online Education

As you learn from the Sloan’s report, Online Nation: Five Years of Growth in Online Learning, in my last post, online education is here to stay whether you like it or not. Last week, NPR published a two-part story on online education in the Morning Edition. The story is about the online education at the University of Illinois-Springfield. It is interesting to learn that the University of Illinois will launch its ambitious new “global campus” next month. According to Joseph White, the president of the University of Illinois system, the university eventually hopes to reach more than 10,000 new online students over the next few years without adding any new buildings. In the U.S., online enrollments have continued to grow at rates far in excess of the total higher education student population. I expect many more universities will follow and launch their global campuses. If you miss this story, you can read or listen both parts of the story online at NPR. Here are the links:

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About Steve Yuen

I am a Professor Emeritus of Instructional Technology and Design at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States.
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2 Responses to A NPR Story on Online Education

  1. Christopher Tisdale says:

    I have taken many online courses and I found them to be very challenging. With online classes you have to be self-disciplined and self-motivated. I think getting an online education is on the rise in today’s society. Most people are working, and just don’t have time to go sit in a classroom. Most online classes that I have taken are just like sitting in a classroom. The instructor provides modules of lectures, chat sessions in which students talk directly to other students and the instructor, and assignments that would be completed in a traditional setting. I have realized that most instructors that teach online classes don’t give many objective assignments, but give mostly subjective assignments. I think most instructors are afraid that students may cheat so that is why they don’t provide objective assignments. From my perspective, I don’t think students will cheat when you have the option to give several different assignments to your students and put a time limit on each test. It would be very difficult to cheat when most students have a different version of the test with a time limit. Most software companies offer randomized questioning within assignments.

    An online education would be a great benefit to someone like me, who is working as a full-time teacher and driving over 610 miles a week. I will be glad when colleges and universities move toward offering students an online education, and take that risk. Most of the work may be completed online, but to finish the course the student may have to go to a testing center to take an exit exam. With proper identification to enter the testing center, the schools would have some idea that students actually learned the material and did not cheat their way through the course. Many instructors need to understand that people understand information in many ways, not just subjective, objective, and performance-based.

    I have been discouraged from taking online classes due to teachers’ fear of cheating and students not really earning their education. In my opinion, as of now, I would rather sit in a classroom behind a desk because I find that a teacher within a classroom covers all methods of testing — objective, subjective, and performance — putting more emphasis on objective assignments. However, online classes mainly focus on subjective assignments.

  2. Amy Thornton says:

    I am a big fan of online learning. If it weren’t for the availability of online courses there is no way I would be able to get my master’s degree. The long hours I have to commit to work and also the hours I put in with community service as well trying to squeeze in some time to spend with my family means that I need some flexibility when trying to get my education.

    I don’t think that taking online courses is for everyone. It requires a lot of time management and self-discipline. Your not going to have someone standing over your shoulder pushing you like you would in a face-to-face course, so you have to come up with your own ways of keeping the momentum to push through to the end.

    I think one of the big benefits of meeting synchronously online rather than face-to-face is that you can archive your online sessions/lectures and then students have the ability to go back and review the lectures as often as they have the need. This especially comes in handy, as well, for students who might have to miss a class.

    Even if a course isn’t fully online, I think that even face-to-face courses can benefit from Web supplements to allow students to have anytime access to their course materials.

    I think that teaching online courses do take a lot more work as far as preparation goes than face-to-face courses and think faculty have to be aware of this. Teaching an online course isn’t just a matter of putting all of your lectures online. It takes work and planning to make your online students feel like a learning community.

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