Which Resource Would Provide The Most Reliable Facts On The Benefits Of Online Learning?

We spend hours learning content on the internet. But what is it doing to our learning?

Which Resource Would Provide The Most Reliable Facts On The Benefits Of Online Learning?

The three words “online learning” were perhaps the most overused, premature, and uttered phrase in 2018.

Just yesterday, our master’s school of business administration published some information regarding its enrollment based on the just-wrapped quarter. The results were interesting, and a much-needed refresher to a press that wanted very much to call online learning an epidemic. For the most part, the statistics shown were in line with what was already on the edge of our mind as well as the organized faculty, due to our membership in the Academy of Management’s webinars.

According to the institutional data, we saw a decrease in enrollments when compared to last year. As such, we thought it would be very interesting to compare enrollment data to data on online learning and find out which area had the most accurate information when it comes to what works and what doesn’t. So, as you can see from the graph below, the one with the biggest decrease, despite being a university, is the one in which the most students are taking classes online through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

Simply put, it appears that there may be a correlation to admission metrics for our old stomping grounds at Cornell and Tennessee Tech. Here are the facts:

Cornell University, which is consistently in the Top 25 for research, has an Admissions Rate of 4% to 5%. In non-degree granting programs, the average number of incoming freshmen is 274,000 people. The mean age of admission on a yearly basis is 23.

Tennessee Tech, on the other hand, has an Admissions Rate of 22%. In non-degree granting programs, the average number of incoming freshmen is 257,000 people. The mean age of admission on a yearly basis is 23.

While we certainly would not want to pinpoint one particular reason why there may be a decrease in enrollment across the board, the correlation, I believe, is more intriguing than not. By looking at admissions rates and the age of admission, online classes appear to help in a retention effort for graduating students and also help recruit new ones. This is probably the part of the equation that gets not only educators, but students, the most excited when using the term “online” based course. We’ve seen reports showing that some of these classes have passed 90% of their cohorts within their first two semesters. While such success stories may not be as attainable in some cases, it may offer a glimpse as to why the schools are increasing enrollment.

Keep in mind, however, that I am not suggesting that actual enrollment is going up at such schools. The difference is that, when perceived success, perceived to be, exists, it is almost a guarantee that enrollees will make some sort of effort to avoid saturation (to quote The Notebook).

In 2019, online is going to be all the rage. Before, it was all “the internet”, and now, it is making its way onto desktops, smartphones, and tablets. As educators, we can at least benefit from a better understanding of how it works. Once the mind-set shifts from virtual learning to online learning, both governments and businesses can begin to develop strategies that engage people to actively drive the true value of it into their culture.

From personal experience, the farther away a college campus is, the bigger the issue of affordability becomes for those looking to make the move to live and take classes elsewhere. When you are out of the loop of what a university is and what it is not, then, the assumption and online, based learning style, is being avoided in favor of the cheaper option. However, when your department is primarily comprised of individuals that are trying to utilize a higher skill set within your program, then the online approach to getting your education may be what you need to do to finish, move up the career ladder, and reap the rewards of it. I guess it all comes down to the fact that we are forced to make a choice when we are being told to make a choice. And, again, we will continue to be under the gun to make those same, very difficult choices.

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