Online Education In The United States And What We Are Learning

The online education market is a fast growing space that consists of various classes such as Business, Communications, Entrepreneurship and more.

Online Education In The United States And What We Are Learning

It’s common knowledge that the number of open online courses offered in the United States is booming. Although the numbers varied from some institutions offering no courses, and others offering over 100 courses, the total figure of 1000+ courses is significant. These courses are taught by some of the best professors in the world and many of the courses are free to take.

To be clear, a course isn’t a degree; a degree is earned in a university setting which is generally heavily regulated. A course, on the other hand, is for free or at a reduced rate and is available to anyone who registers.

Unfortunately for those who are interested in a degree, the issue is there are too many online courses to choose from. Even if your interest is in particular subject areas, whether sciences, business, social sciences, humanities, etc.

In a recent study, the market researchers at Course Doctor listed the top 18 most popular subjects in online education, and for the most part they were all “consumer based” programs that taught skills you needed for entry-level jobs.

It’s clear there are now many more options for students and training opportunities than previously available. However, why and how did the trend for online courses start, and what exactly do people need to know?

There are several factors that lead to online education gaining popularity, including:

Technology and innovation: Long before online course delivery and assessment and online resources were widely available, many sought knowledge in more traditional ways. But today, however, there is a greater willingness to explore new ways of obtaining knowledge.

Technology: As technology advances, many find it easier to obtain knowledge and perform tasks they would not have been able to accomplish in the past. But, sadly, technology is making education more complicated than it has ever been, and higher education takes a hit when technology fails to meet needs.

Education: Here in the United States, we have a higher percentage of students that live in households with incomes below the median, and so the cost of higher education is skyrocketing. This is probably why students are increasingly moving to institutions with online options as an option to save money.

Reason to remain in school: There are certainly people who can’t afford to move to an online only institution. But if you have a viable job that you need the education in order to continue, the online option is an excellent choice to remain in school.

The past

A great deal of the rise in online education in the United States can be traced back to Amazon and Google. In 2006, e-textbooks were one of the most popular and widely adopted formats in the United States. The books were highly customizable and could be delivered through various forms of digital delivery, such as online textbooks, as well as traditional hard copies.

But things took a turn for the worst with the launch of Kindle.

The introduction of the Kindle drastically changed the market. Thousands of retailers jumped on the new technology and offered hundreds of thousands of textbooks and large, high-quality electronic pages. The fact that these e-books were made by a handful of companies allowed for new efficiencies that allowed these devices to work like textbooks do, thanks to features like text search and annotation.

Eventually, the landscape changed. With the launch of the Sony Reader in 2011, lower cost options from Amazon and Barnes & Noble transformed the market with easy to read books, which greatly reduced costs.

This is how higher education completely changed from traditional methods, and while the results were as predicted, the original premise of seeing books as the only way to learn changed entirely. The question arose: where did this shift come from?

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