Distance Learning on the Rise
The number of students taking online courses is up
A recent study shows that the number of students taking at least one online course as a college undergrad is up over previous years. The study, done by Babson Research Group which used data from more than 4,700 universities, shows that over six million students took at least one online course in 2015-2016. This is the 14th consecutive year Babson has reported growth in distance learning.
In Africa, more and more students are turning to online courses in primary, secondary and tertiary grade levels. This movement is a hopeful sign in a continent that is in need of educational reform.
In the U.S., the movement doesn’t include online classes for getting an accredited law degree. The American Bar Association currently has no completely online programs accredited for a J.D. degree. Some blame the law profession’s traditional unwillingness to embrace changes.
Now that connectivity and access to all the information in the world with a tap of the finger is accepted as a way of life, more people are embracing technology to make learning more accessible and more convenient for students and educators alike. The fact that distance learning is on the rise at the college and university level shows that acceptance is spreading and students and institutions are accepting online courses as legitimate avenues for taking classes.
As we look forward, we need to take into account distance and blended learning opportunities when designing our “perfect” schools of the future.
While effective pedagogy and curriculum will remain vital, we need to look for the opportunities that global connectivity present in education. It will be more than BYOD or Chromebooks in schools. With virtual reality technology and real-time file sharing and collaboration becoming affordable, we are looking at a globally connected education landscape the likes of which the world has never seen.