Seven Ways Online Education is Showing Up on Traditional Campuses
If you’re going to an on-campus school, you might think you’ve chosen the classroom experience rather than that of going to an online school. But online education is making headway on traditional campuses nationwide and around the world. These days, even if you’ve enrolled in a traditional on-campus program, chances are you’ll find yourself taking a few online or blended classes. Here are a few ways traditional colleges are making use of online education.
The opportunity to take a MOOC for college credit
MOOC’s—or Massive Open Online Classes—are classes taught online and open to anyone, both on and off campus. It used to be impossible to take a MOOC for college credit; nowadays, however, it’s possible on a handful of college campuses, and it’s possible they’ll become more common as colleges get more familiar with them and demand grows.
A flipped classroom is like an ordinary class, but backwards. Students watch lectures at home, online. They do their assignments in class. The lectures might describe how to perform a specific task, and then apply that knowledge in the classroom—with the professor and teaching assistants there to answer any questions students have.
Some colleges will allow students to pass entire semesters online, even on traditional campuses. Recently seven US schools—Notre Dame, Boston College, Washington University in St. Louis, Northwestern, Emory, Brandeis, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—have joined forces with 2U Inc. to offer semesters online for credit. Unlike with MOOC’s, class sizes are kept small, and students’ faces appear on the class screen alongside the professor’s—so you feel like you’re getting in-person “face time.”
Online degree programs
Some traditional colleges offer fully online programs for entire degrees. At Drexel University in Philadelphia, for example, you can earn a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral degree entirely online, as well as a range of professional certifications. As online degrees become ubiquitous, more and more colleges are taking this step.
Online discussion boards
Grading students based on classroom participation isn’t always fair; some students are more introverted than others, and particularly gregarious students can monopolize the conversation. Some colleges are introducing online forums where students can continue discussions from class, and where both introverted and extroverted students have more of an equal chance of being heard. Some professors use these forums as a way to more fairly grade class participation.
Even on the most traditional campuses, many professors are pulling in online resources to assist and enrich the classroom experience. As a student in this classroom, you may find yourself watching lectures or videos, reading materials, performing exercises, and connecting with experts online outside of class or during class time.
Some schools are using online education to provide remedial training to students who need it or enrich their understanding of certain topics. For example, at Virginia Tech, students can improve their math skills by working in the Math Lab—where hundreds of computers are set up to accommodate students taking introductory math courses online.
Online education is making inroads on the traditional campus—whether academia is ready or not. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; online learning techniques have been shown to dramatically enhance passing rates and retention in many situations. There’s no question that online education makes learning more accessible and flexible for college students—and as distance learning grows in popularity, even traditional students are more and more able to access benefits similar to those of an accredited online degree program. It’s possible that in the future, the line between online and traditional education will become more and more blurry.
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