Do you know that PLATO, the first computer-assisted instruction system developed at the University of Illinois, was born in 1960?
If like me you didn’t, this infographic history may be of interest.
I just completed a graduate degree with online coursework, which was a positive experience for me overall. But I do have a confession: Some of the most significant lessons I learned did not come from the course content—but from the experience of being an online student.
During the first couple of courses in my online program, I felt very much alone as I struggled to complete challenging tasks. There was no unstructured interaction with the other students. No chatting with your peers while waiting for the professor to get started. No hanging out for a few minutes after class. Were my classmates experiencing the same difficulties that I was?
Finally, I took the initiative, reaching out to classmates from all around the world, using email, Facebook, and Skype. I learned I was not alone. We shared our stories and hopes. We worked through complex assignments, providing support and encouragement for one another. Without a doubt, my work improved—and, as importantly, I could process the learning experience with others.
Read more: How My Online Learning Changed My Teaching.
The 2012 Survey of Online Learning conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group reveals the number of students taking at least one online course has now surpassed 6.7 million. Higher education adoption of Massive Open Online Courses remains low, with most institutions still on the sidelines.
“The rate of growth in online enrolments remains extremely robust, even as overall higher education enrolments have shown a decline,” said study co-author Jeff Seaman, Co-Director of the Babson Survey Research Group. “Institutional opinions on MOOCs are mixed,” added co-author I. Elaine Allen. “Some praise them for their ability to learn about online pedagogy and attract new students, but concerns remain about whether they are a sustainable method for offering courses.”
Todd Hitchcock, Senior Vice President of Online Solutions, Pearson Learning Solutions, stated, “Learning is no longer limited to four walls – learning can happen anywhere – and it already is happening everywhere, everyday. The growth of online learning underscores this need for quality, flexible education programs that meet the demands of our 21st-century workforce.”
Frank Mayadas, Senior Advisor to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and founding President of the Sloan Consortium noted “As in past years, the survey demonstrates the continuing robust growth in a wide range of institutions. It underscores the importance of online learning in higher education in the U.S. What a remarkable ten year period the survey has captured.”
Key report findings include:
Over 6.7 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2011 term, an increase of 570,000 students over the previous year.
Thirty-two percent of higher education students now take at least one course online.
Only 2.6 percent of higher education institutions currently have a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), another 9.4 percent report MOOCs are in the planning stages.
Academic leaders remain unconvinced that MOOCs represent a sustainable method for offering online courses, but do believe they provide an important means for institutions to learn about online pedagogy.
Seventy-seven percent of academic leaders rate the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face classes.
The proportion of chief academic officers who believe their faculty accept the value and legitimacy of online education has not increased – it now stands at only 30.2 percent.
The proportion of chief academic leaders who say online learning is critical to their long-term strategy is at a new high of 69.1 percent.
The perception of a majority of chief academic officers at all types of institutions is lower retention rates for online courses remain a barrier to the growth of online instruction.
The tenth annual survey, a collaborative effort between the Babson Survey Research Group and the College Board, is the leading barometer of online learning in the United States. Based on responses from over 2,800 academic leaders, the complete survey report, “Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States” is available at http://sloanconsortium.org/publications/survey/changing_course_2012
Everyday, more resources are becoming available to any one who spends time online. Colleges and universities are opening up and letting everyone access some of their best courses and learning material. Teachers and experts are creating amazing content and hundreds of thousands of people are taking advantage of it. In the past few years there has been an explosion of companies and organizations that are trying to make all of this material available online. Here are some of the most notable places to find amazing free material online today.
Read more: 10 Places to Learn for Free Online.
Imagine a world in which the best possible quality in higher education is available to all students, even those in the most remote parts of the planet, and you enter the world of MOOCs. There certainly has been a very intense buzz lately about the efficacy and future potential of MOOCs as the new wave in higher education reform. For those that don’t already know the moniker, MOCCs are “massive open online courses” offered by and in conjunction with some of the highest ranking, most elite universities in the U.S. The rapid rise of these online courses does not diminish the importance of institutions of higher learning, but it surely has begun to shake things up.
Up until now we characterized online learning as “non-traditional” however, there is a paradigm shift happening, as the undemocratic costs of higher learning have reached the breaking point. MOOCs offer a rapidly growing alternative. The trend is overwhelmingly gaining popularity as a way to level the playing field in a world where elite universities have the monopoly on the highest quality education at equally exorbitant prices.
And this is where it gets interesting.
Read More: Democratizing Higher Education: The Rapidly Changing Face of Online Learning | Academic Exchange.
Because of the diminishing return on investment and rising costs of going to college, new online learning platforms have emerged recently, enabling people all over the world to take college-level classes in a wide range of subjects. These online classes differ from traditional online classes in many ways:
there is no cost to take them
the only requirement to enroll is an email address
while taught by professors, they are not affiliated with any existing institution
enrollment goes into the many thousands of students
In many ways, these classes are better than traditional college classes. Because they are online, you have much more control of their education. For instance, you have the ability to spend as much time as you need in order to gain mastery of the material. In addition, because of the large numbers of students taking these classes, it is very easy to ask and answer questions about the material in the class forums. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the professor won’t remind you when to turn in assignments or watch the lecture videos, so you have to be motivated enough to do the work by yourself.
The two largest platforms providing these types of online classes are Udacity and Coursera.
Read on for a comparison of the two: Online Learning: Udacity and Coursera Comparison | UnCollege.
Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning: An Annual Review of Policy and Practice (2012) is the latest in a series of annual reports that began in 2004 that examine the status of K-12 online education across the country. The report provides an overview of the latest policies, practices, and trends affecting online learning programs across all 50 states.
Keeping Pace is researched and published as a service to the educational and governmental communities through the generous support of our sponsors. Distribution of the report and graphics for presentations are free.
Free Download: Reports & Graphics « Keeping Pace.
As the number of K-12 students who take online courses continues to grow — more than two million are currently enrolled — the need to uphold rigorous standards to online education is becoming that much more important. And with criticism leveled at many online schools for poor academic performance, the online education model needs to create a more accurate way to assess the quality of the dozens of programs in the space.
That’s the premise of a new report published by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) entitled “Measuring Quality from Inputs to Outcomes,” which focuses on laying out a new system of metrics. The report advocates for a new assessment model that focuses on competency-based evaluations that measure a student’s learning trajectory – including proficiency and growth – rather than what the organization call “inputs,” as traditional schools do. Inputs include things like teacher licensing and curriculum and textbook standards. Those inputs are not tied to student achievement, the authors argue, so they fail as metrics for assessing whether an online education program is doing its job.
Read more: How to Uphold Online Learning Standards to Quality Education | MindShift.
Online learning divides opinion like few other issues in the world of higher education.
But regardless of whether you think this is a good or bad thing, there is no escaping the fact it is here to stay.
Despite claims about the democratisation of education through free online university courses and open educational resources, some potential students are being left on the wrong side of the digital divide.
Learners need not only the physical connections to the internet and appropriate hardware, but also the familiarity with technology to make online learning work.
Universities and governments need to do more to improve access to these resources or risk leaving some of the most disadvantaged students behind.
Full Text: Online education: can we bridge the digital divide?.
The Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks invites submission of papers for a special issue focusing on Online Learning and Open Educational Resources (OER) for international development. The articles will focus on reaching rural or other hard-to-reach populations using education technologies that work for these populations. Some of the tools will include OER, online learning, blended learning, and mobile learning. OERs are learning resources made publically available and free to use, modify and redistribute. These include books, presentation materials, assessments and other types of resources. Online and blended learning is being used throughout the developing world in formal and informal learning in a variety of contexts from classrooms to mobile platforms. The issue will also focus on educational transformation where students will be engaged in the creation of resources and participatory research that helps communities develop.
Traditional vocational institutions, colleges and universities in emerging countries are facing unprecedented demand. Likewise, the demand for informal training is growing. Internet growth is on the verge of exploding and mobile platforms are already ubiquitous in many countries. Yet the scarcity of financial resources requires practitioners to develop creative solutions and innovative practices. Online and blended learning, and OER, offer promising solutions to meet demand and improve quality within the context of developing nations.
This special issue will explore current applications, research and future directions for online learning and OER in the context of developing countries. Papers should present a research study, an analysis or detailed case study on the topic, including data where possible. Papers might focus on trends, project outcomes, road-tested methods and promising models including implications for online education where appropriate. Manuscripts are due January 14, 2013 for the May issue.
Full Text: Special JALN issue on Online Learning and Open Educational Resources for International, Rural and Hard-to-Reach Populations, CFP | The Sloan Consortium.