Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Educating the Masses

by Daniel L. Bennett

Jonathan Kaplan (President of Walden College) revamps the important findings of a recent US Dept. of Education report concerning online education in a piece that he wrote for Inside Higher Ed today. I blogged about the report last month. To recap, the key finding of the DOE's meta analysis was:
...on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.
From reading Kaplan's essay, it appears that Walden University has embraced the dynamic world that we live with innovative online degree programs. Walden, along with other innovators, are helping to push the boundary of delivering education in the most efficient manner. The DOE's finding that online learning is as effective, if not more so, than traditional instruction provides ammunition for real reform of education --reform that is void of special interests and political thwarting --technological.

With a marginal cost trending towards zero for online education, technology has the potential to offer education to the masses - even in remote parts of the world. This possibility has to excite Bill Gates and his call for creative capitalism.

If students are willing to put in effort to learn, then online courses will become the prevalent method of delivery in due time. The train has already left the yard and is gaining inertia. Educrats will only be able to impede this movement if they are able to influence the government to impose artificial barriers to thwart the creative destruction of an anachronistic education system.

7 comments:

capeman said...

I ask, how many of the wonderboys at the Doc's "Center" have taken or are working toward online degrees?

right-wing prof said...

capeman is truly a stalker at this blog.

capeman said...

Gee, prof, "stalker" seems a bit strong -- I think I'm at least as civil as, say, some of the people at the Town Hall meetings. And any menacing words here have come from others.

I at least pay the Doc and his wonderboys the compliment of showing some interest -- hardly anyone else does.

You're free to ignore my comments -- nobody is forced to read them -- and you can even post rebuttals, if you are all that interested in what I have to say.

Kiara said...

It is acceptable that Online Education can reach the masses, but I have a little confusion here. i.e. it's quality. I mean is the education achieved online can give the same quality of education as face to face form?? specifically for those subject which needs practical work,..

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uop said...

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Center for College Affordability and Productivity said...

In response to Kiara and others who may have similar questions:

A recent US Department of Education report found that the students learn at least as much as they do in the traditional classroom.

You raise a valid concern that some courses currently are more suitable for face-to-face instruction. As technological advancements continues to expand, the potential for online learning will grow exponentially. Already, the technology exists to allow instructors to give video lectures and to interact with students remotely through discussion boards, blogs, open source course materials and various other forms of electronic communication. These capabilities will continue to grow and improve the effectiveness and efficiency in delivering education in the 21st century.

In other words, the quality of online educaton is likely to continue to improve as our society becomes more and more technologically saavy.

Daniel L. Bennett

capeman said...

For a contrary (and in my opinion, much more credible) view on the efficacy of online courses, see this piece by Glenn Ricketts at the National Association of Scholars website:

http://nas.org/polArticles.cfm?doc_id=944