Why Is Online Learning Important

Online education is an option that is becoming increasingly common. Christine Hollen spoke with Nan Killilea, CEO of ViaServe Academy, an international online learning program.

Forget college. A pair of recent articles in the Wall Street Journal reflect on why online schooling may be the future of the college experience. One reflects on why a higher education degree can no longer lead to a life of unhappiness. The other explores the chance that cheaper online education may produce more equitable outcomes. A few key takeaways from the articles:

1. “Don’t Expect Great Things” From Online Classrooms

“The good news is that nearly everyone who completes online coursework is at least as likely to gain the skills needed to do better in the real world.”

Read more: The real problem with MOOCs isn’t that they’re not authentic — it’s that they’re not great

2. So What Do Students Say?

“Students who attend online colleges are faring worse than those who go to traditional universities. In general, those who attend online colleges have more spending problems, and they are more likely to have studied for less than required…For many students attending online colleges, the classes don’t add up to what was promised.”

3. If More Students Started Free Online Education, What Happened To College Costs?

“……The results also may show how much higher-cost colleges are paying out to online learning companies. Those colleges likely get several hundred millions of dollars in revenue every year from the students they accept and their families, now or in the future. And as they’re getting more student money, they might not care as much about weak academic outcomes. Those colleges may also pay the online learning companies bonuses based on the percentage of students they enroll.

While certain online learning companies may benefit from rising enrollments at for-profit colleges, the past 10 years has not been kind to them as the falling costs of completing the coursework reduce their revenue.”

Read more: Online education is a big moneymaker for for-profit companies, according to a new study

4. Online Education Is Integral to Social Justice

“Education administrators at two of the nation’s largest liberal arts universities, Ohio State University and Oberlin College, are not making it a priority to boost minority enrollment to their liberal arts online campuses. “

5. Overcome Financial Disadvantages

“While many community colleges and for-profit colleges have moved aggressively to push student borrowers into repayment programs that allow them to pay back fewer debts over longer periods of time, often with little or no interest, four-year colleges have been slow to fill the gap…But there’s a risk, according to a recent study: If one-third of students who earn a bachelor’s degree end up defaulting on their loans, that’s one-third more people who will be unable to afford housing, health care, student loans or other items.”

Read more: for-profit colleges default rates increase by 23% since Obama administration’s rule went into effect

6. A Struggle of Equilibrium and Equity

“Tiffany Kelley wanted to have a job, but the small-town workforce she had was limited. There was no way she could pay her tuition bills back home and keep the utilities on. So when the 22-year-old Ann Arbor, Mich., student looked at schools for an online degree, she hit a brick wall. Kelley considered spending more than $30,000 in tuition fees, a semester’s rent and a few hundred dollars on textbooks, but she worried about starting at a lower salary and landing an entry-level job.

“The professors tried to talk to her about an internship. One suggested changing majors and moving to Texas. A woman Kelley knew from the local yoga studio suggested that she look into women’s studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Kelley was hoping to be a yoga instructor. Kelley had little interest in such a program. She never liked the classes or the facilities, so she canceled and enrolled at a nearby community college.”

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