The State and Challenges of Online Education


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The State and Challenges of Online Education

Online education is massive.

Number of students/ type:
3 million/ Online-only students in the US
6.7 million/ Yearly online course students
10 million/ Total MOOC participants

With most schools now participating
86% of traditional residential colleges offer courses online
1/3 offer entire degrees online.

But Is Online Education Here to Stay?

Online does a better job of:
Wide offerings
Good Value

Online does a worse job of:
Format all students can succeed in
Tailoring instruction
High quality instruction
Rigorous testing and trustworthy grading
Positively viewed by employers

Is It a Replacement for Traditional Education?

What’s more important: knowledge and skills or a particular college degree?
(Poll of national adults)
Knowledge and skills: 50%
College degree: 47%

Views on quality of education:
Most people consider the quality of an online-only degree to be “only fair”

Depends on what you’re talking about:
MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have tons of offerings:
By over 1,300 instructors
In over 1,200 courses
From over 200 Universities

Over 70% of Americas largest corporations believe they can use MOOCs in their own learning programs

What Do Employers Think?

10 years ago: “So do you take any classes on campus?”
Today: “We’re impressed that you were able to juggle multiple commitments and still earn a degree.”

75% of small to midsize business embrace online credentials[6]
25% will be hard to sell
–Insperity, a firm that handles recruiting for over 100,000 small to midsized businesses

The Challenge is Verification


1. Program Quality

Promising note: Everything online is measurable, allowing online schools to identify and correct problems quickly.
Not-so-promising note: Many diploma mills are online-only schools that have tarnished the reputation of online education.

2. Anti-Cheating Measures

Such as:
Keystroke recognition
In-person testing
Testing centers
Secure computer environments

3. School Quality

Promising note: online offerings from schools like Stanford, Harvard, and MIT have raised the profile of online education
Not-so-promising note: some online schools list official sounding accreditation institutions while actually not being accredited. This obscures standards for online education.

The Bottom Line

Online education is viewed increasingly favorably students, families, and future employers. By overcoming a few hurdles regarding academic quality and trustworthiness, online education should be around for a long time to come.