We often hear that technology has changed the face of education. But what does that really mean to today’s college student? Here we’ll explore some education trends you’re likely to see, how the quality of online education compares, and how employers view online degrees and online certification programs.
[Get Matched With Top Online Colleges and Universities Now]
Online Education Trends
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately 19.6 million students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities in the fall of 2010.1 Of that total, over six million students were enrolled in at least one online course, according to data published by the Babson Survey Research Group.2 Online education grows in reach every year, and is showing no signs of stopping.
What are some of the expected trends for online education?
- Accelerated Programs: As the statistics show, the U.S. college student population is growing – and just like the general population, it’s also trending older. Since the recession, unemployed and under skilled workers are returning to school in higher numbers than ever, creating a demand for programming that meets the needs of adult learners – such as accelerated programs. In these programs, online classes help students earn their certificate or degree more quickly than traditional college schedules, so they can get back into the workforce with job-ready skills.
- Social Media: Students have embraced social media to keep up with their networks of friends, access educational tools and tips, and make contacts in their field of study. Expect to see more integration of social media into education. Faculty will increasingly interact with students on social networks, and many schools are building wiki sites so everyone can easily create and share content. Online marketing courses will remain on the leading edge, by featuring instruction in social media, as well as Internet and mobile marketing.
- Futuristic Learning: The Institute for Global Futures predicts that online education will soon feature virtual reality teaching, where fantasy meets real-world situations; “teachbots” that offer personalized help on demand; and increasingly interactive, multimedia and multidimensional educational experiences.
Online education has enabled countless students to advance their educations and learn the skills that can help them land a new job. But does an online degree or certification change an employer’s view of a candidate’s qualifications?
How Employers View Online Education
Traditional colleges and universities have simply been around much longer, so some employers may not be as familiar with online degree and online certification programs. However, awareness is growing, and hiring managers, recruiters and small business owners increasingly realize that traditional schools offer online programming in addition to on-campus classes.
- The institution’s name, accreditation status and reputation for quality are often important factors when considering a potential employee’s degree or certification.
- Many recruiters see no difference between degrees earned online and those earned in traditional classroom settings – as long as the institution is appropriately accredited and reputable.
- Professional certifications earned online or on-campus are typically viewed equally.
- With some employers, an on-campus degree might carry more weight if all other qualifications are equal.
- Recruiters and employers don’t typically know if a candidate’s degree was earned through an online or traditional program, unless it’s from an online-only institution.
It’s clear that the quality of a job candidate’s education is of greater concern to employers than the method of delivery. So how does online education stack up to traditional classroom instruction?
[Browse Top Online Universities and Degree Programs Now]
The Quality of Online Education
As the demographics of their students have changed to include older and working students, colleges and universities have stepped up to meet their needs with high quality, flexible online programming. In most institutions, the same faculty members teach both traditional and online courses. Online curriculum is often equal to on-campus courses, but enhanced for the online environment, with interactive and multimedia features to better engage students.
Some say the quality of online education will soon exceed traditional campus instruction. In fact, a survey of online education experts, published by Educause Quarterly, revealed that 86% of respondents expect that by 2013, the quality of online education will be the same as or better than traditional instruction.3
For the vast majority of accredited and reputable institutions, online education is of equal quality to on-campus programs – and students can be assured that the degree or certificate they earn through an online program is equal to those awarded to traditional students. The only differences are in the convenience of 24/7 accessibility, where students may schedule classes around a busy schedule, and instruction that is specifically geared toward online learners.
What Other Changes Are in Store for Education in the 21st Century?
Only time will tell whether students in the near future will participate in field trips to Mars, or if the brick-and-mortar university campus becomes a sentimental icon from the past. In the meantime, technology is bringing sweeping and exciting changes to education, making it more accessible to more people – with far-reaching benefits for everyone.
[Read More Online Education Articles Now]
1National Center for Education Statistics, Projections of Education Statistics to 2019. Accessed January 2012.
2Babson Survey Research Group, Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011. Accessed January 2012.
3Kyong-Jee Kim and Curtis J. Bonk. The Future of Online Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: The Survey Says… Educause Quarterly, Volume 29, Number 4. Accessed January 2012.