Home > Distance Education, Higher Education, Teaching & Learning > Online Education: Promise and Problems

Online Education: Promise and Problems

By Theresa Capra

Online education has permeated our society with dramatic growth that has ushered in a new era of teaching and learning. The University of Phoenix, Online Campus has the highest enrollment of students in the nation with over 224,000 students (National Center for Education Statistics, 2009). Institutions of higher learning are increasing online course offerings in response to student demand: over 90% of higher education institutions offer Internet courses (Callopy & Arnold, 2009). The promise and potential of distance education is laudable; it has the ability to make education more convenient and accessible. Advances in Internet technology have made this possible since learning can occur “asynchronously’: anytime, anywhere, anyplace (Sloan, 2010). Even though online learning has experienced exponential growth at all educational levels, expansion has been most astounding at the associate level, which accounts for more than 50% of the total online student population (Allen & Seamen, 2008)

While this promise is impressive, it is not without unintended negative consequences. For many institutions, online education is creating an interesting paradox: growing demand and enrollment coupled by higher withdrawal and failure rates. Institutions of higher learning, particularly community colleges, report that withdrawal rates in online courses have surpassed traditional courses by at least 20% (Aragon & Johnson, 2008). Nishikant (2009) argues that online education is very different from traditional classrooms, which have a tendency to be dominated by the instructor with limited student interaction. As such, online learning has created a new paradigm in respect to the way in which people perceive the teaching and learning process (Nishikant, 2009). As online education continues to advance, issues specific to this instructional modality, such as technologically preparing students while maintaining course rigor and quality, resonate throughout higher education (Instructional Technology Council, 2010).

Continued at: http://jolt.merlot.org/vol7no2/capra_0611.htm

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  1. June 29, 2011 at 4:01 pm

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