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E-Learning: Just as Good as Face to Face?

“In some circles, online education has a bad reputation,” says Eric Kelderman in the Online Learning edition of Chronicles of Higher Education.  He reports that some say the for-profit online educators are,  “pariahs of students for their federal financing” and “the dark underbelly of higher education.”  Kelderman also reports inflammatory remarks made by Senator Tom Harkin (Iowa – D) calling Bridgepoint Education a “scam” based on high dropout rates and low per-student spending along with “eye-popping executive compensation” (Kelderman B4).

In a time when our country is desperate for flourishing for-profit industry, headlines shout a recent report by a government oversight committee threating to investigate a successful for-profit online university. The fact is, most online colleges are for-profit. Tuition is higher because they are not government subsidized.  In this economy, government and government-supported institutions would benefit from the taxes gleaned from accredited for-profit colleges and universities.  They are pumping tax dollars into the economy enabling the subsidizing the state-funded and federally supported institutions. There are enough investigators, accreditation committees, and politicians looking into these issues and in the end, the market economy will determine if students are getting a valuable degree from online and for-profit institutions.

The Chronicle of Higher Education is quick to highlight the controversy a headlines in the Online Learning issue and offers a wide variety of articles representing the current attitude in the academe toward distance learning. In the Online Learning issue both sides are presented, including one professor declaring she will no longer teach online.  Nancy Bunge, a professor of writing, rhetoric, and American culture at Michigan State University says, “ …Perhaps they will eventually find a way to invest its processes with the sense of shared humanity that binds together students and teachers in successful classes. Until that moment arrives, I’ll leave online teaching to others” (Burge B36).

The Chronicle of Higher Education had many articles touting the effectiveness of distance learning for foreign language and art instruction, while showing how American service members studying on the battlefield. The Online Learning issue offered practical teaching tactics such as using Twitter to get immediate feedback in a distance-learning situation (Mendenhall B25).

A study by The Sloan Consortium reports, “While over two-thirds of academic leaders believe that online is ‘‘just as good as’’ or better, this means that one-third of all academic leaders polled continue to believe that the learning outcomes for online courses are inferior to those for face-to-face instruction (Allen 9).  Unexpectedly, some of these negative attitudes were discovered among academics positioned to revolutionize online pedagogy – those who are trained to teach online.


 Works Cited

“6 Online Learning Trends.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 11th ser. 11 (2011): B20-21. Print.

Allen, J. Elaine. “Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011 | The Sloan Consortium®.” The Sloan Consortium® | Individuals, Institutions and Organizations Committed to Quality Online Education. Babson Survey Research Group Babson College, 2011. Web. 07 Dec. 2011. <http://sloanconsortium.org/publications/survey/going_distance_2011>.

Bunge, Nancy. “Why I No Longer Teach Online.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 11th ser. 11 (2011): B36. Print.

Isaacson, Walter. “Chapter 49.” Steve Jobs. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011. Print. Audio Book

Isaacson, Walter. “Chapter 51.” Steve Jobs. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011. Print. Audio Book

Isaacson, Walter. “Chapter 52.” Steve Jobs. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011. Print. Audio Book

Isaacson, Walter. “Chapter 54.” Steve Jobs. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011. Print. Audio Book

Kelderman, Eric. “Oversight on the Rise.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 11th ser. Nov (2011): B4-B5. Print.

Mendenhall, Robert W. “How Technology Can Improve Online Learning – and Learning in General.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 11th ser. 11 (2011): B23-25. Print.

Mims, J. “The Term “Digital Natives” – OwnLocal.com.” Own Local – A Newspaper & Local Market Software Company. Web. 07 Dec. 2011. <http://ownlocal.com/newspaper-support-group/the-term-digital-natives/>.

Parry, Marc. “Online-Course Enrollments Grow, but at a Slower Pace. Is a Plateau Approaching? – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.” Home – The Chronicle of Higher Education. 9 Nov. 2011. Web. 07 Dec. 2011. <http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/online-course-enrollments-grow-but-at-a-slower-pace-is-a-plateau-approaching/34150>.

Parry, Marc. “Preventing Online Dropouts: Does Anything Work?” Wired Campus. The Chronicles of Higher Education, 22 Sept. 2010. Web. 7 Dec. 2011. <http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/preventing-online-dropouts-does-anything-work/27108>

Prensky, Mark. “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants.” On the Horizon 9.5 (2001): 1-6. Print.

Prensky, Mark. “Digital Natives Digital Immigrants, Part II: Do They Really Think Differently?” On the Horizon 9.6 (2001): 1-9. 2001. Web. 5 Dec. 2011. <http://www.rtmsd.org/744112551813560/lib/744112551813560/Prensky_-_Digital_Natives,_Digital_Immigrants_-_Part2.pdf, p. 1%u20139.>.

Prensky, Mark. “H. Sapiens Digital: From Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom.” Journal of Online Education (2009): 5. Web.

Rich RiceTexas Tech University PhD. Program. Web. 5 Dec. 2011. <http://www.english.ttu.edu/tcr/Media_Files/rice.mp3>. Podcast introducing Dr. Rice to explain his research interests.

“The Blackboard.” Web page. MEAPA. http://meapa.com/toolbox/the-blackboard/. 5 Dec. 2011. Web.


*Steve Jobs often used this phrase when he was introducing the iPod, iPad, the iPhone, and other innovations. He always saved the best for last and introduced it by saying, “And that’s not all . . .”