The Babson Survey Research Group, an organization that tracks online enrollment, notes that between 2012 and 2016 the percent of online enrollment in universities increased 17.2 percent while overall enrollment decreased. But that expansion doesn’t necessarily correlate with how the public perceives the quality of online courses, historically questioned for its lack of rigor and limited measurable learning gains.
A Gallup poll conducted back in 2015, found that 46 percent of Americans “strongly agree” or “agree” that online colleges and universities offer a high-quality education—up 30 percent from when the poll was conducted in 2011.
However, researchers caveat these findings, noting that these perception changes happen within particular pockets and are sometimes the result of strategic practices, such as universities not listing the medium of learning on student transcripts.
The last academic leader perception survey released by the Babson Research Group was in 2016.
“We’ve had more and more of the group in the middle that said, ‘I’m not sure’ move into a pro online learning stance,” says Seaman, speaking of the academic leaders he surveyed in the past. “The negative group [those who viewed online learning negatively] had not wavered at all. The positive group did not waiver at all, but we had a steady migration flow of academic leaders in the middle.”
Lowenthal has also researched student perceptions of online learning in the past, finding that learners tend to give such courses more negative evaluations than in-person courses. He says that the findings may represent the lack of experience some educators have teaching in online classrooms. He expects that to change over time, noting that good teachers in person will eventually become good teachers online.
Among student respondents, 70 percent said they prefer mostly or completely face-to-face learning environments. The professors surveyed were even more partial to face-to-face classes, with 73 percent preferring them.
In higher education, 29.7% of all students are taking at least one distance course.
The total distance enrollments are composed of 14.3% of students (2,902,756)
taking exclusively distance courses and 15.4% (3,119,349) who are taking a
combination of distance and non-distance courses. The vast majority (4,999,112,
or 83.0%) of distance students are studying at the undergraduate level.
Almost half of the distance education students are concentrated in just five percent of the institutions, while the top 47 institutions, only 1.0% of the total, enroll 23.0% (1,385,307) of all distance students.
The total number of students studying on campus (those not taking any distance course or taking a combination of distance and non-distance courses) dropped by almost one million (931,317) between 2012 and 2015. The largest declines came at for-profit institutions, which saw a 31.4% drop, followed by 2-year public institutions, which saw a 10.4% decrease.
69% of online students identified employment as their primary goal for entering a program. 17% are grad students.
Seventy percent of administrators said they launch new programs with enrollment growth in mind, while meeting marketing and recruitment goals was their top concern.
Flipgrid is a free service that you can use to post prompts for your students to respond to with short videos that they record through their laptops, Chromebooks, iPads, or phones. Your prompts and your students’ replies can be kept private or you can make them public. a complete set of Flipgrid tutorial videos available here.
Faced with increasingly complex communication technologies—voice, video, multimedia, animation—university faculty, expert in their own disciplines, find themselves technically perplexed, largely unprepared to build digital courses.
instructional designers, long employed by industry, joined online academic teams, working closely with faculty to upload and integrate interactive and engaging content.
nstructional designers, as part of their skillset, turned to digital authoring systems, software introduced to stimulate engagement, encouraging virtual students to interface actively with digital materials, often by tapping at a keyboard or touching the screen as in a video game. Most authoring software also integrates assessment tools, testing learning outcomes.
With authoring software, instructional designers can steer online students through a mixtape of digital content—videos, graphs, weblinks, PDFs, drag-and-drop activities, PowerPoint slides, quizzes, survey tools and so on. Some of the systems also offer video editing, recording and screen downloading options
As with a pinwheel set in motion, insights from many disciplines—artificial intelligence, cognitive science, linguistics, educational psychology and data analytics—have come together to form a relatively new field known as learning science, propelling advances in a new personalized practice—adaptive learning.
Of the top providers, Coursera, the Wall Street-financed company that grew out of the Stanford breakthrough, is the champion with 37 million learners, followed by edX, an MIT-Harvard joint venture, with 18 million. Launched in 2013, XuetangX, the Chinese platform in third place, claims 18 million.
Former Yale President Rick Levin, who served as Coursera’s CEO for a few years, speaking by phone last week, was optimistic about the role MOOCs will play in the digital economy. “The biggest surprise,” Levin argued, “is how strongly MOOCs have been accepted in the corporate world to up-skill employees, especially as the workforce is being transformed by job displacement. It’s the right time for MOOCs to play a major role.”
In virtual education, pedagogy, not technology, drives the metamorphosis from absence to presence, illusion into reality. Skilled online instruction that introduces peer-to-peer learning, virtual teamwork and other pedagogical innovations stimulate active learning. Online learning is not just another edtech product, but an innovative teaching practice. It’s a mistake to think of digital education merely as a device you switch on and off like a garage door.
At four-year universities, students with high grades often did just as well in an online course, but those with low grades suffered more. Another 2017 study of students at a for-profit university which offers both in-person and online classes found that students who took an online class not only got lower grades in that class but also in future classes. Online students were more likely to drop out of college altogether than similar students who attended in-person classes.
The question is whether we should keep expanding online learning, with generous federal subsidies, to the most vulnerable students before colleges have tested and proven they can educate them adequately outside the classroom.
Since the early days of online instruction, the response of many new instructors has been to figure out how to transfer elements of their face-to-face class into the online format. In response, education technology companies have been quick to create products that attempt to replicate in-person teaching. Some examples include learning management systems, lecture capture tools, and early online meeting systems.
online proctoring systems, such as ProctorU or Proctorio, replicate a practice that isn’t effective in-person. Exams are only good for a few things: managing faculty workload and assessing low level skill and content knowledge. What they aren’t good at is demonstrating student learning or mastery of a topic. As authors Rena Palloff and Keith Pratt discuss in their book “Assessing the Online Learner: Resources and Strategies for Faculty,” online exams typically measure skills that require memorization of facts, whereas learning objectives are often written around one’s ability to create, evaluate and analyze course material.
Authentic assessments, rather than multiple choice or other online exams, is one alternative that could be explored. For example, in a chemistry course, students could make a video themselves doing a set problems and explain the process. This would allow instructors to better understand students’ thinking and identify areas that they are struggling in. Another example could be in a psychology course, where students could curate and evaluate a set of resources on a given topic to demonstrate their ability to find, and critically analyze online information. (see Bryan Alexander‘s take on video assignments here: http://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims?s=bryan+alexander+video+assignments
They lurk behind the scenes of a rapidly growing number of courses at colleges and universities, yet instructional designers are an elusive bunch. Their field is exploding—The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked it as one of the top 10 trends in higher ed this year—as more institutions pursue online and blended-learning offerings. But there hasn’t been much consensus on the role of instructional designers across institutions.
estimates at least 13,000 professionals are in the field at higher-ed institutions. Findings provide a glimpse of who instructional designers are:
The average age of IDs is 45 years old
67 percent are female
87 percent have master’s degrees
More than half have teaching experience
IDs reported that their duties vary from day to day, but that their work generally fits into four buckets: design (e.g., creating new or redeveloping old courses); management (e.g., overseeing projects from cradle to grave); training (e.g., helping faculty use new technologies); and support (e.g., providing timely help for LMS questions from faculty).
The Babson Survey Research Group, an organization that tracks online enrollment, notes that between 2012 and 2016 the percent of online enrollment in universities increased 17.2 percent while overall enrollment decreased.