Why Self Learning Online Programs Dont Work Effectively

According to a recent study from the RAND Corporation, online instruction methods have always been the norm in industry and are far more common than commonly thought. However, researchers found that in most of the industries they surveyed, the company they worked for did not actually offer the online version of the program they were studying.

Why Self Learning Online Programs Dont Work Effectively

Luxia is an online platform that promises to transform how learning is delivered.

In a recent article for Business Insider, writer Lance Ulanoff expressed his enthusiasm for an online education app called Luxia. The app is intended to challenge the entire notion of “credential-based learning” and to get students to work on their own. “If you’re a student and are interested in learning, click on this link. You’ll be on your way to an 8-week Mastery Program,” he enthusiastically promised. While Ulanoff enjoyed this vaunted platform, he did express a certain amount of skepticism about the platform itself. “When it comes to the program, I found it to be perhaps a bit more intentioned than realistic,” he admits. “But it’s hard to shake the feeling that it exists only to escape the rigors of actual schoolwork.”

Yet, Ulanoff’s critical assessment fails to consider the sorts of credentials that certify Luxia’s professors. Luxia has promoted only one academic, an Associate Degree from Houghton College. Education alone apparently does not equate to credentials, as demonstrated in a critique of the online business school that I wrote for The Huffington Post. Under that review, I lambasted the online MBA for simply filling up post-graduation employment requirements. “Unproven, uncertified program placements serve only to underwrite costs that are directly correlated with the school: the courses and brands the student will view when they take their first job,” I noted.

What made me recall Ulanoff’s interview? He mentions one of my colleagues, writer Hannah Wallace, who reported on the online business school, Dip.Bk.Lr. “Wallace writes that ‘Luxia is clearly the better program, but it is more superficial.’ Students do not have an actual experience as experienced professionals—they learn through practice.” Additionally, Ulanoff concedes that learning without fulfilling career requirements might be preferable to attending a traditional school, a justification that Wallace argues does not stand up under scrutiny. As one comparison worth considering is that if you compare a business degree obtained on a four-year college campus to an online program consisting of two months of on-site learning in an absolute vacuum, you’ll discover the on-campus program at most of the academic institutions in the U.S. may be a better option.

Here’s where it really shines. One of the criticisms leveled at U.S. post-graduate education is that American school systems provide little feedback to students. The measurement of learning by evaluating the number of credits earned for advanced courses “is too limited,” says associate professor James Hughes of the University of Washington. “It neglects important aspects of students’ experience in college—the pleasure of the relationship they have with their professors, the time they spend in close contact with like-minded friends and classmates.”

I wholeheartedly endorse Hughes’s prescription. In the absence of an actual classroom interaction, it would be remiss not to lavish students with a period of increased exposure to engaging peers. Students would have a greater understanding of their academic pathways and would face different challenges and rewards as a result. And college instructors need to recognize that the on-going learning experience is not merely important for objective observations, but also for an active self-discovery. Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter has, by all accounts, done this kind of experiential education quite well. There is another interesting side benefit for students as they determine which educational program matches their interests, personal desire, and ability. According to one statistical methodology cited by Professor Greenberg, it is possible that more students actually devote more energy to completing college programs that need reinforcement (e.g., an MBA degree from Harvard) and less energy to completing programs that don’t require additional reinforcement (e.g., an online degree in web and technology).

Even more exciting is the prospect of providing greater feedback for students. Business schools who fail to do so are gaming the system. Entrepreneurs and students alike should take note.

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