questions, institutions, data

Are educators asking the right questions about distance education?

Sometimes the seemingly obvious can be overlooked when it comes to distance ed implementation.

questions, distance, educationOnline instruction, and testing specifically, can still be considered the Wild West in higher education. It is uncharted territory, quickly expanding with no specific guidelines or hard and fast rules to follow.

In fact, only 28 percent of academic leaders say that their faculty accept the value and legitimacy of online education, according to a recent survey from the Online Learning Consortium (OLC). The report also cites new federal data that counts more than five million students now taking one or more distance education courses, an increase of nearly 200,000 from 2013-2014.

As a former president of an online university, it worried me to see such low buy-in from faculty. But, as a former faculty member, I understand their concern: If you’re not seeing your students every week in class, you can’t see the expressions on their faces to know if they’ve missed something—or if they’re even there at all.

However, as today’s college students seek more flexible education options, colleges and universities often find themselves having to keep pace with student technology demands. As unorthodox and frustrating as some of these demands may seem, educators must consider creative ways to adopt hybrid and online learning modalities because the million dollar question is, “what will it mean for the future of our school if we don’t evolve and adapt?”

The first step to embracing distance learning is laying a strong foundation to ensure that the online programs and courses will thrive. As educators, we need to acknowledge the inevitable learning curve and face it head on by ensuring that we’re asking the right questions. In my experience, both as a university administrator and as CEO of ProctorU, I’ve seen that these questions, while seemingly obvious, can sometimes be overlooked.

(Next page: 4 questions to ask about distance learning)