College heads endorse online classes

Online courses are just as good as traditional classes say 51 percent of college presidents. But the general public is skeptical of online learning’s value, concludes a survey by the Pew Research Center and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

More than three-quarters of the nation’s colleges and universities now offer online classes. Nearly half of those who graduated in the last 10 years have taken a course online.

Only 29 of adults surveyed said online education is as good as traditional classroom learning. But that rose to 39 percent for those who’d taken an online class.

Not surprisingly, presidents of colleges delivering substantial numbers of online classes expressed higher regard for them than did leaders of colleges offering fewer such courses. Two-year colleges reported the most activity online: 91 percent of two-year presidents said their institutions offered at least some online courses. Two-thirds of those presidents said online learning was comparable to face-to-face instruction. In contrast, 60 percent of presidents at private, four-year colleges said their institutions delivered courses online. Of those presidents, only 36 percent thought the quality of online education was equal to that of in-person courses.

Online education will spread quickly, predicts William Pepicello, president of the for-profit University of Phoenix. “People thought that shopping online or banking online were fads, and yet I can’t tell you the last time I was in my bank. They’re very nice people, and I like them, but I don’t need to see them very often,” thanks to online banking and ATM’s.

“There is an excitement about the potential” of online learning to expand access and reduce costs, says Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education.

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON September 2, 2011

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