Which Student Populations Not Served Well By Distance Education Online Learning

Academic success and student success depend a lot on the research that each educational institution conducts about their students. They also take into account both the desired and the insufficient methods used to motivate students through the online learning model.

Which Student Populations Not Served Well By Distance Education Online Learning

If you believe any of the leading distance education business and professional associations, there’s no magic bullet for college graduation success, but a few top strategies hold the best hopes for students. Navigating the performance of one’s higher education options can be daunting for students struggling to see where the college bells and whistles stand compared to just getting by. But falling short of graduation expectations is only the tip of the college graduation iceberg. These strategies, all-inclusive of academic sustainability and quality, shouldn’t be taken for granted by the nearly two-thirds of first-time, full-time undergraduates who receive guidance and support from their school’s advising staff. For distance education online education to succeed, students must be the center of their digital worlds, both on and off-campus.

But where students are the center of the net, all schools are likely to fail to provide them with adequate safety nets, and efforts to prevent wide-spread harm emerge from the bricks-and-mortar world. A forthcoming study, “Potential Adverse Relation Mechanisms,” by Dr. Kenneth A. Alain, investigator at the University of Southern California, and colleagues, finds one such mechanism at play. The study identifies three areas of susceptibility for student adverse reaction to distance education: Online well-being, opportunity, and assessment tools.

On-Campus Colleagues

The study cites, “Over the decades, the student experience at many brick-and-mortar colleges has been part of a larger objective to deepen the personal contact with faculty and staff.” That is, providing the academic and advisory staff on-campus with a need-to-know-you persona helped retention and graduation rates among students on campus, a benefit its faculty and staff also enjoyed. With many institutions of higher education throwing budget-crunched faculty and staff on the Internet-based version of a brick-and-mortar lecture hall, the era of requiring students to have seniority, such as getting an internship or a job, to be admitted to an institution of higher education has likely died.

“Right now, about 60 percent of students receive their advise-support from on-campus staff.” Dr. Alain states. “To improve that ratio, it’s important to ask whether an assist group of on-campus and online advisers are a good fit,” he says. “Distance education remains a new technology, often unwelcome to faculty and staff. Thus, those advice groups may not have the skills or established network needed for success.”

He advises everyone to ensure that advisors on- and online-based campuses are working together, meaning they are clearly delineated, competent, and strong enough to effectively support students in both the classroom and out of it.

Off-Campus Colleagues

When students, in particular, study abroad, it is commonly understood that the semester travels in a business-class, student-coupled plane while they’re taking the junior fare. This summer 2018 study, one of many, found that between 1999 and 2018, total international student enrollment in the United States increased by 530 percent to 10.6 million students, with 800,000 students coming from 23 countries. The value of this research is that it demonstrates the potential to enhance both convenience and affordability for international students seeking a postsecondary education in America.

“Another key barrier to international enrollment,” as the study states, “are concerns about cost and how one will do it well in American colleges.”

In regard to cost of a foreign education, the study finds cost-related concerns among international students in multiple countries. The average cost for a US degree abroad is approximately $20,000 in USD. On-campus enrollment of students from these countries is estimated to be less than 3 percent. So far, so bad. But U.S. colleges are increasingly counting on this international cohort, to meet enrollment goals and potentially contribute to the bottom line.

“You have to look at whole-person lives, not just the college walls,” says Dr. Alain. “We are increasingly looking at national policy as well as local community-based learning efforts for international students. American policies and university missions are maturing, and I hope policy-makers will be as cognizant of international students’ needs as the technology in the classroom and on the course outlines used.”

Despite increasing international student enrollment in America, the higher ed environment remains one in which the ability of a student to complete a degree is still defined by distance. Aside from an extensive industry association, Dr. Alain suggests several promising avenues that students can take into their own hands to overcome the challenge of budget constraints.

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