Regular Joe

Unfiltered (and totally caffeinated)

Dramatic Growth in online courses

I never took an online course in high school or college.  In fact, the only online course I’ve taken was to learn that software that my company users.  The course was not very well organized (there was just too much going on). But I did learn from it.  

I might have missed the “elearning” wave in my education, but it’s certainly gaining traction today…and that’s a good thing.  I think there are lots of efficiencies to be found in elearning (both fully online and blended).  

The sharing of content, collaboration by two teachers separated by distance, and a greater wealth of rich content (video, audio, etc.) are all benefits borne from education moving online.  

Education week had a few good pieces about online learning today, one an interview with the President of Virtual High School in audio (here’s a direct link to the mp3).  Additionally, they covered the “rise in elearning”.  Here’s my favorite part:

The report notes that school districts are implementing these courses differently. Some are using online-only classes and others are creating a hybrid model that might include some face-to-face interaction with a teacher as well as digital curriculum and online interaction.

“The big trend is more blended or hybrid learning environments in the classroom,” says Susan D. Patrick, the president and chief executive officer of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, formerly known as the North American Council for Online Learning. “There are cases where schools have a highly qualified math or science teacher, but relying on a single textbook to teach all the concepts of the course may not be the best way to customize instruction in this digital age.”

So, this is great and all–but there is an issue that stands in the way of wide spread adoption and that’s elearning in higher education.  Many institutions charge the same rates for online as in class (despite the obvious cost savings of not using rooms and giving freedom to the facilitators).  In fact, my wife took a course from UWisconsin and they put a premium on her online course.  

The fact of the matter is the elearning is cheaper.  The cost of the facilitators remains the same, but if you’re not printing papers, scheduling rooms, heating said room or using electricity, there are savings to be had.  Even more so when elearning institutions streamline and automate registration, certifications, transcripts and other tasks that may currently require manpower.

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Filed under: Education

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