Posted in: In this week's e-newsletter, Internet, Latest News & Views
Online education detractors, take a deep breath.
The No. 1 criticism of online ed is now debunked.
Think tank Ithaka S+R tested the conventional theory that students learn more in the traditional classroom vs. online. 605 undergraduates at public universities in New York and Maryland were recruited for a comparison test.
Half of the students took an introductory Statistics course that met three hours a week. The other half took Carnegie Mellon’s online statistics course and also met once a week. Then both groups of students were tested.
Result: The online students scored just as well as the traditional students — statistically equal test scores across the board.
Towson University statistics professor Linda Cooper took part in the study. She was initially a skeptic of online ed, but not anymore. “I walked away with a much more positive outlook for online courses,” saying students had a “deeper understanding” of the material after taking the online stats course.
Cutting classroom time — and costs
The Maryland and New York college students were also surveyed after finishing their courses.
The key stat? Online students spent 25% less time on coursework than the other half.
Students’ time is valuable – but colleges and universities are obviously delving deeper into online ed because of the bottom line. The higher ed bubble is all too real. Consider these recent examples:
- The University of Virginia recently fired (then later re-hired) its president because she wasn’t capitalizing on new revenue streams – specifically, online ed.
- Prestigious universities such as Princeton, MIT, Penn and Stanford are offering hundreds of courses online – for free.
- The market for online ed is big – possibly bigger than colleges realize. MIT was blown away when just one of its courses attracted 120,000 students.
- And the kicker … Student loan debt now exceeds Americans’ credit card debt. No wonder, as the price tag for college has grown four times greater than the interest rate over the last 30 years.
Trimming the bulk of the financial waste in college education will take time and hard work. For immediate relief, count on more schools embracing online ed – many simply have no other choice.
What’s your take on online ed? Share your opinion below.