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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Number of Students Taking Online Courses Is Quickly Rising, But Perceptions Are Changing Slowly | Learning Strategies - EdSurge

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Jenny Abamu, Education Technology Reporter at EdSurge reports, "Online course offerings in the United States have expanded.
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In both K12 and higher education options for students to take whole courses, blended courses and—in some places—entire degree programs online are more prevalent than ever.

The Babson Survey Research Group, an organization that tracks online enrollment, notes that between 2012 and 2016 the percent of online enrollment in universities increased 17.2 percent while overall enrollment decreased. But that expansion doesn’t necessarily correlate with how the public perceives the quality of online courses, historically questioned for its lack of rigor and limited measurable learning gains.

Researchers that have looked into public perceptions of online learning note that over the last 15 years views inched in a more positive direction, evidenced by the increase of students enrolling in courses and surveys given to pupils and professors. A Gallup poll conducted back in 2015, found that 46 percent of Americans “strongly agree” or “agree” that online colleges and universities offer a high-quality education—up 30 percent from when the poll was conducted in 2011.

However, researchers caveat these findings, noting that these perception changes happen within particular pockets and are sometimes the result of strategic practices, such as universities not listing the medium of learning on student transcripts...

Photo: Patrick R. Lowenthal
Patrick R. Lowenthal, an associate professor of educational technology at Boise State University, notes that he was one of those professors who began to view online learning more favorably after engaging with the medium back on 2001. Since then he has been teaching courses for graduates online, a medium he admits he was hesitant to engage in before.

Lowenthal has also researched student perceptions of online learning in the past, finding that learners tend to give such courses more negative evaluations than in-person courses. He says that the findings may represent the lack of experience some educators have teaching in online classrooms. He expects that to change over time, noting that good teachers in person will eventually become good teachers online.

Source: EdSurge