Thursday, August 28, 2014

What’s Impacting the Future of Online Learning?

As the popularity of online courses continues to increase, so do the developments that make it more convenient, more accessible, and a richer experience for everyone involved. Since we first started our online programs in 2000, the online learning industry has undergone many different changes.

At Peirce, we seek to not just stay on top of these developments, but to stay ahead of them. It’s how we’ve been named to U.S. World News and Report’s list of best online bachelor’s degree programs for three years in a row.

Through this journey we’ve observed what’s worked and what’s working now, giving us an insight into what’s impacting future developments in online learning. Below we discuss three of them.

The increase of enrollment due to convenience and accessibility.
As technology continues to erase time and distance limitations, online learning has made it possible for millions of students to be able to take college courses who otherwise couldn’t. Since many students are working, raising families, and have other obligations, committing to being in a specific place at a specific time for the duration of a semester presents a significant challenge for them. Fortunately, these students have found that online classes provide the flexibility they need to be able to attend class while still managing their other responsibilities.

This comes as more and more people are recognizing that the competitive job market demands they update their skills and credentials to get ahead. They’re now able to work while taking online courses to advance their careers. With the constant changes in nearly every field, this trend is expected to increase for quite some time.

For other students, online courses are helping them to complete their degree faster. Even those who are able to take courses on campus may not be able to do so at the time the course is offered. Online classes give them the opportunity to still be able to take that class instead of waiting until the next semester when their schedule may work better with the class times.
Clearly, the multiple benefits of increased convenience and accessibility has currently and will continue to contribute to the growth of online learning.

The continued advancements in technology will have a large impact for online learning. For example, faster broadband connections now make it easier for students and instructors to upload and download large multimedia files. This also makes it possible for different models and simulations to be presented online just as they are in the traditional classroom. Similarly students are also able to more easily create their own digital content as part of a class project. All of these factors will continue to contribute to a more innovative and interactive online learning experience.

Improvements in education delivery.
Not all advancements in online learning will be technology related. Feedback and insight from this new wave of online learners will be incorporated to make the quality of education better, both online and in the classroom. As more instructors teach online and more students continue to enroll, new insight is gained about how to best deliver the most effective education. 

At Peirce, we’re fortunate to have the entire college supporting our online learning programs. From the college president to adjunct professors, everyone is constantly looking for improvements in content, structure, and delivery. When an improvement is identified, that improvement is made across the board to all online classes that we offer. This approach pushes our entire online learning program forward rather than incremental improvements to a particular course. Similar approaches for the industry in general will continue to make online learning more effective for both students and instructors everywhere.

What about you? Have you taken an online class? What’s been your experience? What do you predict will be the next development in online education?