More than 6 million students, or one-third of all students in higher education, are taking at least one online course, according to a study by the Babson Survey Research Group. The study states that the rate of growth in online enrollment is ten times that of the rate in all higher education.Despite this tremendous surge in online learning in the last decade, there can still be stigmas attached to the quality of online programs. There’s a perception that online is synonymous with lower-quality. While poor quality online programs certainly do exist, not all online programs deserve this scarlet letter.
According to a recent study by Lindsay Redpath in the Academy of Learning and Education, a substantial body of research indicates that there is no significant difference in learning outcomes for students learning online compared to traditional classroom learners.
Redpath states that, “Success is rooted in pedagogy, more than in technology or mode of delivery. While there are differences in the way that communication, interaction, and instruction occur in online and classroom delivery, learning outcomes are not necessarily more or less effective in one mode or another.”
The definition of a quality, post-secondary experience can now be reframed, as academic institutions have more opportunities to innovate than ever before, with the coming of age of online learning.
As with anything, when selecting a post-secondary institution or program, doing your research is key. Is the school accredited? Do credits transfer to other institutions with ease? How is online education versus classroom education viewed within your specific industry or field of study? What is your learning style? How will the specific program meet your individualized needs?
It’s better to give thoughtful consideration and weigh all the options before jumping into a program haphazardly. But the wonderful thing is that there are more options now than ever before.