Diversity at College Level Bolstered by Online Offerings - Higher Education

Higher Education News and Jobs

Diversity at College Level Bolstered by Online Offerings



Each year online learning initiatives becomes less of a fringe movement and more of an incorporated, and accepted, form of education. More than 6.7 million people took at least one online class in the fall of 2011 and 32 percent of college students now take at least one online course during their matriculation. It is even becoming commonplace for high schools to require all students to take an online class before graduation as a way to prep them for the “real world” of secondary education.

The flexibility and convenience of online learning is well known but what is not as readily talked about is the way distance education promotes diversity of the college population. With less red tape than the traditional college format, online students are able to earn credits while still working full time, maintaining families and dealing with illnesses. Whether students take just one course remotely, or obtain an entire degree, they are able to take on the demands of college life more readily – leading to student population with more variety.

The Babson Survey Research Group recently revealed that while online college student enrollment is on the rise, traditional colleges and universities saw their first drop in enrollment in the ten years the survey has been conducted. This drop is small – less than a tenth of one percent – but its significance is big. A trend toward the educational equality of online curriculum is being realized by students, institutions and employers across the board. The benefits of a college education through quality online initiatives are now becoming more accessible to students that simply cannot commit to the constraints of a traditional campus setting.

Related:  Diverse Conversations: Have For-profit Schools Preyed on Minorities?

A controversial experiment that could lead the way to even more college credit accessibility is MOOCs, or massive open online courses. As the name implies, these classes are offered to the general public at a low cost, or no cost, in the hopes of earning their students college credit. California-based online course provider Coursera recently had five of its offerings evaluated by the American Council on Education for college credit validity. Four of the courses were recommended for college credit by ACE, and one was endorsed for vocational credit, providing student work verification through a strict proctoring process.

These credits are not earned through community colleges or online-institutions; Duke University, the University of California at Irvine and the University of Pennsylvania are on Coursera’s list of places the courses will earn credit for students that pay a nominal fee. Students that obtain these credits through Coursera can approach any higher education institution and seek their inclusion in a degree program, but the final discretion is up to the particular school.

MOCCs are certainly in an infancy stage and do not provide a “sure thing” yet for students that participate. In the Babson survey mentioned earlier, only 2.6 percent of schools offer a MOOC, but an additional 9.4 percent are building a MOCC plan. The potential for further diversity and equality in education through MOCCs is certainly on the horizon. This form of online learning means that students do not have to commit to an entire course of study to obtain credits or even commit to a particular institution upfront.

Related:  ACT Scores Show Many Grads not Ready for College-level Work

MOOCs will further eliminate the socio-economic barriers that keep promising students from seeking out college credits. Students are given more flexibility in scheduling at an affordable price. Though the MOOC trend has its dissenters, I believe it will win over even the most skeptical and increase accessibility for all people that seek higher education. After all, at one time the mention of online courses raised a few eyebrows in the educational community and look how far the concept has come. Further development of online initiatives, specifically in the area of MOOCs, represents the next big step for enriching the diversity of the college student population in America.

Freshman Year Doesn’t Have to be Stressful I don’t know if there was a particular time when I started to think about going to college. It wasn’t during my freshman year in high school that college first crossed my mind. The question for me was where I was going to college not if I was goin...
Our Voices will be Heard When We Vote in November America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. One of the greatest privileges that we have is our right to vote. Because we are in this great country, we probably take a lot for granted. Don’t let voting be one of them. We are now e...
Racial Incidents Hit Close to Home: On My Campus By now most of you have probably heard of the incident that occurred at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) last week. A young White college student, Tristan John Rettke, taunted a group of Black Lives Matter protesters. He was bare-footed, dresse...
The Clueless, Careless and Outright Racist Rhetoric of Some in the GOP Just when you thought the madness of the 2016 presidential campaign couldn’t get anymore insane, guess what, it has. Many people are probably aware of the comments made by Kathy Miller, volunteer chairwoman of GOP nominee Donald Trump’s presidenti...
Semantic Tags:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *