3 hurdles for online education and why they matter

For all of its growth, popularity, and improvement over the past decade, a few challenges persist for online courses in higher education.

online-education-hurdlesOnline learning saw massive growth in the early and mid-2000s turn into steady growth over the past couple years. There are now more than 7 million American college students who take at least one web-based class, according to numbers from the Babson Survey Research Group.

It’s not all good news for online learning advocates though.

The rise of massive open online courses (MOOCs) since 2012 hasn’t done much for the perception of online education, as rock-bottom retention rates in MOOCs have shined a light on the potential challenges of expanding online learning to such a degree.…Read More

Here’s how to make college ‘free for all’

What if the federal government took all of the money it spends on student aid, and instead just used that money to pay for every students’ college education?

Source: The New American Foundation

According to the New America Foundation, the federal government spent $69 billion on grants, loans, and tax benefits for student aid in 2013.

If the same money was spent on paying tuition at public universities instead, then every student currently enrolled in those colleges could do so for free. The cost of tuition collected by universities last year was just $62.6 billion, according to the Department of Education.

Web-based education would likely play a vital role in such a radical change in higher education.…Read More

Rebooting online education

The disappointing results from San Jose State’s experiment with online courses shouldn’t be interpreted to mean that such courses can’t help students, the Los Angeles Times reports. But the classes the university offered in collaboration with online provider Udacity were practically a model of how to do online education badly: rushed into existence and sloppily overseen. No one was even aware that some students who had signed up for the classes lacked reliable access to computers. The one thing the college did well was monitor the results of the three pilot courses and call a timeout when failure rates proved unacceptably high. It’s hard to draw conclusions about one of the three courses because it enrolled a mix of students from varied backgrounds, while the comparable classes held on campus enrolled regular San Jose State students. But that wasn’t the case for the other two courses, and overall, the results of this much-ballyhooed venture were startlingly bad: At least 74 percent of students passed the campus-based courses, while no more than 51 percent passed any of the Udacity courses.

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Redefining online education: Focus shifts to engagement

Like online dating before it, online education has surpassed stereotypes and is being embraced by New Yorkers as a real alternative to the brick-and-mortar university experience, amNewYork reports. Most NYC-area colleges and universities — both public and private — offer some sort of online courses. Classes are sometimes entirely online or a hybrid mix of online and on-campus meet-ups. But more and more universities are also creating unique classes specifically meant for online students, and the focus has shifted to small classes that are highly interactive. Online classes can help students fulfill post-baccalaureate requirements, switch careers, get masters degrees or certificates. And universities report that enrollment, demand and diversity of offerings are up across the board. … Columbia’s School of Continuing Education has developed “Networked Learning,” their own online education model which allows students and faculty to communicate using social networking and other tool, which Tableman refers to as a “side benefit.”

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Ethernet daddy: online education poised to transform the world

During an interview at the Ethernet Innovation Summit in Mountain View, California, Ethernet inventor Robert Metcalfe was asked what surprises were on the horizon due to the ever more pervasive advance of the internet, The Register reports. “The most exciting surprise, I think, is going to be MOOCs,” said Metcalfe on Wednesday, referring to online education – Massively Open Online Courses. “Education is about to be disrupted, like iTunes did to music.” Some educators have called MOOCs a bad idea, raising the objection that online education destroys the one-to-one relationships between teachers and students. Metcalfe disagrees. “Here’s how I handle those [objections],” he said. “It goes back to the invention of another ‘bad idea’ – the BOOC, which is spelled today B, O, O, K. It was obviously a very bad idea, because before BOOCs, we would sit around the campfire and we would hear the story directly from the storyteller, but now we have these damn BOOC things.”

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Student aid change could mark shift in online education

Many in higher education say the traditional credit-hour model has been seen as restrictive.

Making federal student aid available to students enrolled in competency-based courses is more than an acknowledgement of legitimacy for nontraditional education, experts said, but rather a policy decision that could lead to a spike in competency-based classes, many of them online.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED), after months of anticipation from colleges that have long provided nontraditional education offerings, said March 16 that competency-based learning programs – not just those based on traditional credit hours, or “seat hours” – may be eligible for Title IV student aid, including Pell grants and federal student loans.

Before ED’s official announcement, government aid had not been available for those taking competency-based classes in which students can earn credit toward a degree based on prior learning.…Read More

Search site matches students with online courses

SkilledUp helps students sift through hundreds of online course options.

With a little help from low-cost online courses and tutorials, Nick Gidwani watched two interns go from making $8 an hour to snagging six-figure jobs.

Gidwani, who launched a new site called SkilledUp.com on Aug. 21, said free and fee-based web-based classes that help employees show expertise in their field have long been undervalued by young people competing for jobs in the country’s slumping economy. SkilledUp, he said, would help workers find the proper online training with a no-hassle web search.

SkilledUp has 115 online education options available in its search engine – a number expected to grow by 10 every day in the coming weeks, including courses from Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) sites like Udacity and Coursera.…Read More

College president: Improved federal rules needed to cut costs, grow online education

Thanks in part to the more than 150 new rules and regulations which emerged from the current version of the HEOA, higher education in America has never been more expensive, Ebersole writes.

While still wrestling with the many initiatives and regulations spawned by the 2007 renewal of the Higher Education and Opportunity Act (HEOA), it is already time for colleges and universities to start worrying about 2013, and how an updated HEOA could expand — or shrink — online education.

Hopefully, Congress and the U.S. Department of Education will see their coming negotiations as an opportunity, and unlike the current version, will use any new legislation to reduce the cost of education, improve access, and provide incentives for innovation.

Thanks in part to the more than 150 new rules and regulations which emerged from the current version of the HEOA, higher education in America has never been more expensive for students in the traditional lecture hall or the online classroom.…Read More