We’ve all noticed the trend of graduate schools offering courses, and even entire degree programs, online. Our friends at Gradschools.com are here to tell us why.
Ongoing research, which tracks the migration of students to online higher education in the United States, continues to show that there is a steadily growing population of individuals enrolling in this new form of study. With more and more students seeing the benefits in online education, it’s no wonder there is a tremendous push for schools to increase their online program offerings. In addition, we now see several colleges and universities working to be the brand name in online higher education.
There is no denying the seemingly many benefits of an online education, particularly for adults and working professionals looking for career advancement through a graduate degree while juggling a myriad of other responsibilities. Online education is convenient, with no travel time to and from class, and enables flexible scheduling and easy anytime access to instructors via email. In addition, online classes provide greater student diversity in class with individuals from potentially all over the world enrolled. Finally, with many of the course materials and documents also hosted online, and no traveling costs, this form of education appears to be the most cost effective for some students.
In a time when we are growing increasingly connected to the world through our computers and handheld devices, and looking for quicker solutions to all of our challenges through technological advancements, it makes sense that there is both a significant demand for and supply of online education. It seems to be the perfect solution.
Interestingly, with higher education institutions flocking to increase programs of online study, university faculty are not always wholeheartedly on board with the change. “While the percentage of schools wading into the deep end of virtual education by offering entire programs online has nearly doubled in the last decade, faculty members on the whole have grown more resistant to virtual instruction” argued a 2013 U.S. News article.
While some number of faculty appear to be responding to a growing concern that online education will eventually eliminate – or at least significantly decrease – the need for their profession, others clearly believe that an online education is inferior to traditional classroom learning. With several disadvantages of online education, including the concern of future employers over the validity of an online degree, the inability of students to communicate face-to-face with faculty, the lack of student discipline, and poor retention rates, there are legitimate concerns to the online learning shift.
As with choosing a traditional college or university to attend, thorough research should be conducted into a particular online program prior to enrolling. Many faculty members acknowledge that not all programs are created equally and there are many outstanding online programs that could be considered superior to in classroom learning.