Students today are looking for ways to sidestep the high costs and inconvenience of attending a brick and mortar schools. Estelle Shumann discusses factors to bear in mind as students seek meaningful education on the Internet.
One of the biggest concerns educators have is that the online space, while certainly convenient, may not be effective for every student. “Studies have shown that student success—in particular, retention rates—in many online courses is significantly lower than in similar traditional face-to-face courses,” a 2008 report in the Virginia Community College publication Inquirysaid. The online format makes it easy for students to essentially “fall off the grid,” the report said, and encouraged a resurgence of online training and active mentorship to encourage students to get the most out of the material presented.
Even students who are successful—that is, who complete the courses with good grades and come away with substantial knowledge of the subject area—may not be receiving quite the same education as their classroom-based peers when it comes to socialization, which is concerning to some. A college degree “is an educational experience rather than a training course,” the Financial Times said in a 2012 survey of online learning. “Accessing and digesting content is only one aspect of the programme. Reflecting, communicating, engaging and collaborating with a network of academics and peers are equally important.”