Showing posts with label online colleges. Show all posts
Showing posts with label online colleges. Show all posts

Friday, April 10, 2015

Online Education Encourages Stronger Scholarship Cultures

One of the greatest advantages of traditional education is its ability to create knowledge based cultures through face-to-face communication.  It is believed that on-campus social interaction creates norms, values, and expectations that lead people to higher forms of scholarship.  This is not always the case when negative cultural influences restrict the ability of students to be successful.  New research shows that online courses help to enhance the scholastic nature of colleges by countering some of the destructive norms in society that limit intellectual growth.

When people interact and socialize with each other they create social expectations that can either lead to more scholastic behavior or lessen that behavior. For example, cultural norms can encourage greater research and knowledge sharing or it can socially restrict the transference of knowledge. When negative cultures are developed in face-to-face environments they can be extremely difficult to reverse. Online education offers the opportunity to create egalitarian learning networks not based in preconceived notions.

A paper in the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning discusses how online education with Saudi Arabia female college students not only enhanced their learning but also encouraged positive pro-learning environments (Hamdan, 2014). Online education offers an opportunity for socially restricted individuals to own their education and contribute to their respective bodies of knowledge in a meaningful way.

This issue is not restricted to Saudi Arabia alone and can impact American students as well. Consider how cultural norms may subtly restrict minority students from speaking up in class, become highly educated, or contribute to scientific discovery in a meaningful way. The process of exclusion can occur between genders, in/out groups, people who are different, those who have higher intelligence, minorities and social class.

Online education creates an environment where people can speak freely without all of the subtle cues that leave some with the impression their opinion isn’t worth as much as others. Because of the nature of posting to other students, a natural activity among the younger generation, negative social norms don’t hold as much sway. Professors and students may be completely unaware of the race, religion, gender, or status of the other people in the class unless they self-reveal.

Where people may be naturally dissuaded from engaging in class activities in one setting may actually find themselves thriving in an online environment where they start on equal footing with others. Classmates know students by what they think and post versus their social status. The process of bringing forward various opinions into collaborative learning environments raises the transference of knowledge and the potential for scholarship.

Hamdan, A. (2014). The reciprocal and correlative relationship between learning culture and online education: a case from Saudi Arabia. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 15 (1).

Thursday, March 19, 2015

8 Ways Online Education will Help Balance University Budgets

A sound college degree is expensive and the cost of managing universities is continuing to put pressure on stretched state budgets. Online education entered the market in the past few decades and is disrupting the traditional system. Despite this feather ruffling it also will bring a few new things that may help both universities and states become more cost effective.

The legal design of the institution (for or non-profit) is less important than the actual quality of education provided. To that end, traditional land based universities have come grudgingly to accept the merits of online education in both terms of cost and learning quality. Online education will change the cost structures of universities (Cowen & Tabarrok, 2014):

  1. Using the best professor and content creators to teach more students.
  2. Save time with less repetition and commuting costs.
  3. Flexibility in when and how lectures are viewed.
  4. Greater productivity improvements as software substitutes labor.
  5. Additional incentives to invest in quality as market increases.
  6. Stronger feedback through adaptive systems.
  7. Greater student measurements.
  8. Reduce cost and increase quality of higher education through enhancing productivity.

Online education is here to stay and will continue to grow and develop over the years. It will provide a number of benefits for universities whose administrative and cost burdens are high. By focusing on high quality online quality learning, universities will be able to find higher economies of scale and greater reach for their educational benefits.

Cowen, T. & Tabarrok, A. (2014). The industrial organization of online education. American Economic Review, 104 (5).

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Traditional Colleges Collaborate for Online Education

Traditional colleges are seeking ways to develop their own online programs in an effort to cut costs and create more relevant programs that fit the lifestyles of their students. A consortium of universities called the Committee of Institutional Cooperation consists of 13 research colleges made up of the big ten universities in the U.S. It has met and presented a positional paper on possible efforts to develop their own online platforms. 

Some of the reasons beyond the economic need and decreased state funding is that they purchase products from third party vendors. There is a feeling that they are not in control of the platform and that they could develop something that better suits their needs. The decision to collaborate has not been finalized but they are moving in that direction. 

Their vision for online collaboration includes the following:

1.) Majority of members indicate that collaborative online learning would be of benefit to them.
2.) The CourseShare program where universities share courses that do not have high student attendance rates such as rare languages has significant benefits.
3.) To pursue a bigger and bolder online strategy that suits the needs of their population.

The need to follow non-traditional universities in online endeavors and extend opportunities has become apparent. The positional paper indicates that the U.S. ranks 13th out of the G20 in higher education and the failure of traditional colleges to keep pace has become concerning. The paper also indicates that in the future the fastest growing population will be the non-traditional students that traditional universities currently do not support well. 

The members recognize that there are advantages and disadvantages to online education just the same as there is within traditional face-to-face instruction. The largest factors in educational value variances are centered in the capabilities of the students. They cite student learning outcomes, motivation, engagement, satisfaction, confidence, social interaction, etc… as some of the biggest predictors of outcomes. 

The embracing of online education has been time in coming. New technologies are often considered disruptive and thwarted by established positions. Yet as these technologies develop they become adapted into larger organization and take on a new "normal". This normal lends perceived credibility to programs that were once deemed of less educational value. Research and experience has highlighted that different is not worse. With more experience comes better programs and collaborative learning processes.

You may read the CIC paper HERE