As with any technology, e-learning took some time to get off the ground – but these tools are quickly gaining steam as more schools realize the potential benefits they can provide. It has become abundantly clear that e-learning is not a trend, but a powerful solution that will continue to play an increasingly important role in education. As colleges and universities look to boost enrollment and accommodate prospective students’ busy lifestyles, these technologies can be immensely helpful in eliminating possible obstacles to learning.
Making learning more accessible
According to a recent study by the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship, 47 percent of community colleges already use online learning solutions – and they predict that figure will increase 8 percent to reach 55 percent in just two years. Moreover, a staggering 84 percent of the 578 college faculty surveyed deemed e-learning a valuable educational tool. When asked about the top benefits of these technologies, participants cited increased accessibility to students regardless of location and time flexibility, expanded resources and information available 24/7 to students, and a wider variety of tools and methods for pupils.. Additionally, faculty said that e-learning is a viable supplement to the traditional face-to-face classroom, and agreed that it offers a rich learning experience that frees up class time for more engaging activities. Participants noted that e-learning can be particularly useful in terms of meeting the needs and time constraints of students who have another job, or who have geographical limitations.
“Keeping students on track to earning a credential, whether that be a degree or certification, has become a national interest in recent years,” explained NACCE President and CEO Heather Van Sickle. “While community colleges provide accessible, affordable education, it is paramount that students walk away with credentials that are meaningful in the workplace and that they are prepared for the careers they hope to pursue, including, for many, the start of entrepreneurial endeavors.”
Boosting engagement through e-learning
One university that is expanding its e-learning initiatives is Miami University. According to Dayton Daily News, 10 percent of its courses will be offered solely online by the year 2020 – which is a major jump from 2004, when a mere 2 percent of students were participating in Web-based courses. Beth Rubin, Miami’s assistant provost for e-learning, told the news source that more than one-third of students engaged in an online course last year. Now, she says that almost 3,500 students are enrolled in e-learning, not counting summer enrollments. This is an even larger portion of the student population than the school expected. In fact, she admitted that the projection was about 2,348 students would take advantage of these offerings. Rubin noted that for the most part, e-learning programs have been mostly geared toward students at the Miami and Hamilton campuses because they tend to have a longer commute, and can therefore benefit most from online courses.
Now, Dayton Daily News reported that school officials are focused on making these e-learning materials more interactive for students, incorporating modules that demand active participation.
“The goal is to offer the Miami experience through online learning – to have virtually the same level of experience you have online as on the ground. ” Rubin told the news outlet.