Online completion gap is narrowing

The completion gap between online and traditional courses is narrowing, reports a Instructional Technology Council survey on Trends in eLearning at community colleges.  Nearly half of colleges surveyed said online students are as successful as students in face-to-face courses, reports Fred Lokken, dean of the WebCollege at Truckee Meadows Community College.

Distance education enrollments at community colleges continue to grow, with a move to “blended” or “hybrid” courses. However, the rate of growth has slowed, concludes the survey, which was released at the annual meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges in San Francisco.

While community colleges are “exploring ways to use massive open online courses and open educational resources in their curriculums,” many distance education administrators remain “skeptical,” reports Scott Jaschik on Inside Higher Ed.

Both MOOCs and OERs have been promoted as ways to help cash-strapped community colleges educate more students, many of whom themselves are cash-strapped.

On MOOCs, the survey found that only 1 percent of community colleges are offering course credits or certificates for MOOC completion. While another 44 are “beginning to explore options” that might incorporate MOOC content into programs, 42 percent reported that they had no plans to do so.
“As would be expected with something so new, campuses are cautious in their approach. Many community colleges are skeptical that a large-enrollment solution is appropriate for campuses that believe in smaller, more personalized instruction,” says a report on the survey.

Only 36 percent believed open educational resources would have a “significant impact” at community colleges. Two-thirds of respondents said faculty members weren’t aware of OERs and lacked the time to locate and evaluate them. Many also worried about the credibility of some resources.

MOOC mockers don’t understand the potential of online learning, writes Geoff Cain, director of academic technology at Humboldt State, here and here.

State U Online, a new report by Education Sector and the New America Foundation, outlines five steps to implementing successful distance education programs.

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[…] college students are learning how to learn online — or perhaps the courses are improving. The completion gap is narrowing between online and traditional courses, according to a survey of community colleges. Nearly half of colleges said online students do just […]

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