How Many People Use Online Learning Sites

Online learning has grown in popularity over the last few years. It continues to become easier to start learning anytime, anywhere.

How Many People Use Online Learning Sites

This semester I ran an AIBA digital studio class at the University of Georgia—a new and exciting technological learning opportunity that I found invaluable for my teaching and research. I was able to apply my previously taught computer science course at the university to an online learning environment, and thanks to the rigor and integration of continuous learning, every step of the way was aided and facilitated by the class’ faculty advisor.

According to data released last year by the Higher Education Information Management Systems Consortium (HEIMC), the total undergraduate student population for U.S. universities in 2017-18 was 23.3 million (FY17). Of those, 4.7 million (48 percent) were enrolled in associate degrees or higher. Electronic classes with course materials often take those percentages and elevates them to 1.7 million associate degrees and higher—or nearly 50 percent of the total U.S. undergraduate student population. Eighty-four percent of these students take online courses, with one-third of these students taking online classes for credit.

Additionally, HEIMC data reveals that 80 percent of all online classes are taught by adjunct faculty, and while 90 percent of all students attend a class through an online platform, 53 percent attend a virtual class with a live classroom portion taught by an instructor. The majority of these virtual instructors are enrolled as staff with tenured tenure and tenure-track faculty bodies.

HEIMC data also shows that 80 percent of online students belong to working adults, with 50 percent in the 25-54 age group and 33 percent between the 25-39 age range.

For example, for the upcoming semester, AIBA will offer three courses through Coursera’s expanded platform. Each course will feature about 25 full time AIBA faculty members offering 6-8 one-on-one, private or small group feedback sessions in addition to videoconferencing in and out of rooms at numerous locations throughout the world. Coursera has shown that more and more faculty members with both flexible and full-time schedules are finding online learning as flexible as physical teaching and are encouraging their students to complete online classes with digital materials.

Here are some highlights from my course-related e-book, “ABAAI: Online Master Classes.”

Throughout my course, I utilized artificial intelligence to identify brand new research topics and expand my classes. I took advantage of AI to enhance my material-consumption behaviors and got feedback from students on how they found material. A popular interface used by AIBA throughout my course, “Keep Pixels Comfortable”, was used to help students navigate AIBA materials, including taking advantage of AI to track the methods, processes, and results of online learning. AIBA held an internal Webinar with Coursera teaching assistants prior to the beginning of my course to allow students to stay on top of the technical aspects of online learning. Course-specific modes of self-teaching were implemented throughout my courses, including course-wide topics and use of an experiment-based virtual lab for non-professional students. Overall, I used the feedback tools of MyAnswer, a study coaching platform, to help students refine their questions throughout my courses.

Other online content providers provide instruction for online offerings, as well. In my major area of research, AI is evolving towards a technology that empowers the individual learner to enhance their learning through smart content delivery. In particular, my program covers scenarios where smart content delivering improves student engagement.

For example, in one case study, a college took on the responsibility of producing a DNA database for the MOOC’s most popular selection, which was a procedure that AIBA was unable to supply. The course content was much clearer, yet instructive, and all content, including the offline course content, was available for review. Students were able to dig deeper into topic areas that felt overwhelming and scary to them or confusing to them, and teaching assistants were able to support them throughout each learning experience.

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