New study highlights shifting landscape of online education
Many busy, working adults choose to enroll inChristian colleges and universities later in life to advance their careers. Individuals who cannot commit to a full-time course of study often enroll in online degree programs due to their flexibility and convenient nature. While many Christian universities have enthusiastically embraced online education in recent years, some students may not realize just how prevalent online degree programs have become during the past decade. Accordinog to a recent report published by the Sloan Consortium, a group of online education advocacy organizations, web-based instruction has permanently altered the landscape of higher education in the U.S.
Signs of the times
In today’s fast-paced digital world, it is difficult to imagine life without the conveniences that modern technology offers. In this sense, higher education is no exception.
According to the report, titled “Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States,” more than 6.7 million students nationwide took at least one online course in the fall 2011 semester. This represents an increase of approximately 570,000 individuals over the previous year. In addition, around one-third of undergraduate students took at least one class online during the same period, signaling a profound shift in how modern students learn.
One aspect of online education that individuals considering enrolling at Christian colleges and universities may have heard of is massive open online courses (MOOCs). These revolutionary platforms enable eager students to learn about a wide range of subjects, from social media to artificial intelligence. MOOCs are free of charge, however, they currently do not offer college credits. While a few high-profile colleges have adopted and even pioneered these platforms, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University, many schools are unsure of how MOOCs will play a role in the development of their online education options.
The report indicates that only 2.6 percent of colleges nationwide currently have an MOOC system in place. An additional 9.6 percent said that such platforms were in development. While MOOCs have the potential to disrupt higher education and the ways in which students learn new skills, many academic experts have expressed concerns that little is known about how to award college credits for classes taken through MOOCs.
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, some schools are evaluating whether to allow courses taken through MOOCs to apply toward transfer credits, while others are working with organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop methods of awarding regular course credits for MOOCs.