Saturday, June 2, 2012

The New Era of Higher Education

Will the beloved "brick and mortar" college campuses completely disappear from the land in this strange new century? Distance learning is changing the face of higher education. Today, more than ever, scholars both young and old are seizing this novel opportunity. Most schools now offer courses taught from a distance. Never before in history has technology allowed such colossal amounts of knowledge to be available at our fingertips. A new era calls for different methods and innovations in learning.

You may ask, "What about the distance education? What's so special about it?" Well, distance learning has been around for a long time, although it has changed much since the educator Caleb Phillips taught a shorthand correspondence course in 1728. (Wikipedia) Only recently has the phenomenon begun to be widespread. Types of distance learning include such methods as correspondence courses, internet learning, and television broadcasts. Online learning is certainly one of the most popular channels of distance education.


Much research has been conducted regarding teaching adult learners at the university level. According to a 2006 study, over 3 million students are currently participating in at least some type of online coursework. (Allen and Seaman, 5) This constitutes around 17 percent of the entire higher education student population. (Allen and Seaman, 5) Colleges and universities are responding to this amazing level of demand by offering many more courses online. According to the same study, over 96 percent of institutions with 15,000 or more enrollments, offer some form of online courses or programs. (Allen and Seaman, 8) Academic leaders are beginning to show more affinity toward online education. This study reports that in 2006, 58.4 percent of academic leaders surveyed believed that online education is critical to the long-term strategy of their institution. This is up from 48.8 percent in 2003. (Allen and Seaman, 9) Such statistics as these indicate a growing trend toward more positive attitudes for distance education.

Which method is better: traditional or distance learning? After analyzing test scores, age, preferred learning styles, homework, research papers, exam scores, and course grades, the 1999 study concluded that "distance education can be just as good as traditional face-to-face education." The study revealed that although "no significant differences were found between pre-test scores, homework grades, research paper grades, and final course grades," distance education students actually scored higher in the other three categories. (Tucker) While employing both similar and dissimilar methods of education, both traditional and distance learning seem to produce comparable results.

Have you ever wondered why students drop out of distance learning? Sometimes, they just don't know where to look for online accredited degrees. Colleges often specialize in certain areas. For instance, some schools are more artistically inclined than others. One of these schools may be perfect for someone who desires to be a distance learning music major.

How to know a reputable distance learning university is easier than you may think. There are many professionals dedicated to providing students with information on how to find colleges that offer cheap accredited distance learning classes. For example, you may have questions such as, "How can I find accelerated business degree programs in California?" or "What about distance education from Christian universities?" These experts will direct you to the program that will work best for you.


One benefit of distance learning is the significantly lower financial burden. Many students have been able to obtain accredited credentials for a fraction of the normal cost. Some have been able to earn their degree almost exclusively by credit-by-examination, thereby paying only a few thousand dollars for their entire four-year degree. Also, years of time can be saved by following this method.

In conclusion, the rising marvel of distance education is drastically changing the world of scholarship. Its future is immensely bright. Students are realizing the benefits, and schools are answering the demand. As we can see, studies show that distance students score just as well as traditional ones, while saving both time and money. Because of these reasons and many more, I am certainly excited about the personal rewards I can obtain from this method of education. Positive attitudes are flourishing as both students and educators begin to see the vast potentials that are available. The 21st century will observe an exciting new explosion in higher education. Distance learning will continue to pave the way into the future because the possibilities are endless.

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