Over the past several years, oline education has continued to grow at an impressive rate. Nearly four million students are discovering the benefits of obtaining an education online . Colleges and academic institutions across the country are actively working to keep up with the growth in enrollment in accredited online colleges.
“Online Nation: Five Years of Growth in Online Learning” is the fifth annual report on the state of online learning in the U.S., supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The report, published early 2008, summarizes a survey conducted with 2,500 colleges and universities. Some interesting statistics:
· Nearly 20 percent of all students enrolled in higher education programs are studying online .
· The 9.7 percent yearly growth for online enrollment far exceeds the1.5 percent growth of the overall higher education population.
· Two-year associate’s degree institutions have the highest growth rates and account for over half of all online enrollments for the last 4 years.
It is clear that online degree programs are impacting the academic world in a big way, but what impact does enrolling in an online college or university have on the learner? Why are students, especially non-traditional students, enrolling and sticking with it until graduation?
It appears many factors work together to make online learning a positive experience for the student. Some of the main factors:
Greater access and availability: Students are able to signup for courses and programs not available in their geographic area. Those who live in rural areas where transportation is a problem can log-on and attend a cyber class at a top accredited school – without having to leave home!
Diversity of course offerings: Where you live on the planet doesn’t matter. You can still avail yourself of a wide variety of professional and specialized training programs from accredited schools. Nearly every field is now represented in online offerings, as is every type of degree – from diploma and certificate programs, to associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. level degrees.
Convenience and flexibility: Being able to log-on twenty-four hours, seven days a week makes online learning very attractive to the adult learner. Controlling when and where coursework is done allows students to keep working and caring for their families. Although online programs have workloads equivalent to traditional “face-to face” programs, the work can be done according to a schedule that fits individual lifestyle. Busy families and single parents especially appreciate this flexibility.
Privacy and anonymity: Students not desiring an on-campus college experience can learn without having to meet face to face with anyone. Students who may be intimidated by on-campus involvement enjoy the freedom and privacy of learning online.
Student-centered learning: Online students can tailor their learning to their own learning style and usually work at their own pace. There is greater one-to-one interaction between instructor and individual students, as online programs are designed for frequent exchange of information and feedback.
Collaboration and teamwork: Most online degree programs are designed around a collaborative model of processing and problem-solving. Students often experience a greater sense of community and camaraderie as they work and learn together.
Quality education : Instructors and students surveyed in the “ Online Nation” study mentioned above believe online programs are just as rigorous and valuable as traditional coursework. Quality of online course offerings and instruction was rated at least as high as traditional programs.
Ready for the future: Pioneers in online education will be well-equipped for life in the 21st Century. Not only will online students be technologically savvy, they will have gained a more global perspective by interacting with others from a distance.
Online degrees are valuable: Early doubt over the marketability of an online degree has faded as graduates are proving the worth of their online education in the workplace. Those advancing their careers by going back to school are proof that getting an online degree pays off.
Join the millions who have already reaped the benefits
Millions have already received online degrees. They are living proof that it can be done and that there are many benefits from selecting an accredited online degree program. There will always be traditional institutions of higher learning. But online learning has become firmly established as a practical and worthwhile route to getting that degree and moving forward in life.
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