The Future of Online Learning

If you are a Waldorf online student or alumnus, congratulations—you are part of the future of education. As the technological revolution continues, and more and more individuals are accessing and mastering internet capabilities, institutions of higher learning have followed suit to transition themselves into the modern age. This means brick-and-mortar colleges are introducing additional online courses to their semester catalogs and more and more institutions are being created which serve their students entirely through online degree offerings.

And this shift seems natural to most of us when considering the multitude of reasons for choosing to pursue a degree online. For some, the flexibility of an online education is a better fit for busy day-to-day schedules. Others believe the commute to and from classes puts too much of as strain on their time and their gas tank. And others find the only way to balance work life, family life, and an education is to learn from a laptop at home, on their own time. No matter the reason, more and more people are finding that an online degree is the right course of action to achieve their academic goals.

During the recession, the increase in online learning skyrocketed because so many individuals saw the feasibility of pursuing a degree online. Since then, numbers have only been increasing with around 21 million students enrolled in online classes in 2011.

And online learning seems to be stretching out past adult learners, as well—according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of K-12 public school students who enroll in distance learning education courses has grown by more than 65% since 2002.

But like any large shift in cultural norms, not everyone is approving of online learning. Some say that traditional, face-to-face classes, involving student discourse and the physical presence of a professor is the only way students can properly learn. Unfortunately—the statistics don’t support the naysayers.

According to a report from the Department of Education in 2010, students in online courses performed better, on average, than those who learned the same material through traditional, in-person courses.

Another study done last year surveyed 1,500 online graduates and reported that most students found their online education to be a good investment of time and money and many participants had secured new jobs, full-time jobs, raises, and promotions soon after their graduation date.

And for those who say connections with other students aren’t made through online learning, we at Waldorf have to disagree. As a college serving an online student populous, we have seen the growth of student social media groups, online chat study sessions, as well as many personal connections made through online classes that have lasted far past the student’s last semester. In a world where more people are meeting through dating websites, social media platforms, and blogs, who is to say that the same culture shift can’t permeate through education with the same positive effects on student interactions?

So, if online and distance education are the norm today, in 2014, what do you think future of education can hold?

Comment below and tell us how your online degree has effected your life and tell us what you think the future will bring.

Author: Claire Stewart

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