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Article: Whats New in Online Education

By Marianne Salina
January 31, 2006
Online Education Degrees Contributor

The Internet is responsible for eliminating the limitations of time zones, transportation, and telephones by making information accessible 24/7. And guess what? The same tools that have improved businesses and telecommunications are improving education dramatically.

Online Education continues to drive forward as a steady force in the academic community with two thirds of the colleges and universities in the United States offering distance learning. Employers, academic administrators, and skeptics are faced with the indisputable success of online students and the interest in online education continues to grow. The question no longer pertains to whether online learning is credible or effective, but instead, how does it continue to evolve and what can future online students expect from their learning experience?

Quality Control Enforces Excellence

Enforcing the highest standards of professors, course materials, and of the attending students ensures that any learning experience will remain challenging and competitive. Online education is certainly no exception to the rule. Online schools are held to the same strict standards of quality, learning effectiveness, accessibility, and affordability by which traditional learning institutions abide. In fact, as universities frequently offer the same face-to-face courses as they do online, the standards are identical for both types of courses. The criteria for ensuring quality online education maintains a positive response from teachers and students:

  • Competitive Admissions Process: Students must prove their academic potential and level of competence for enrollment in a degree program.
  • Excellent Instruction: Often online courses are taught by core faculty members-the most qualified teachers in the programs.
  • Degree Accessibility: Online learning is intended to make the process of pursuing education easier. Updates in technology, software, CD-ROMs are being made to improve the ease of learning online.
Range of Options Expanding

So we know that online learning is now a fixture in the academic industry, governed by only the highest education standards, but what comes next? Technology plays the greatest role in dictating where online education will go and which tools will make earning your degree the most effective. To start, the number of courses and fields of study available through online schools is broadening, particularly in science and engineering degrees. As jobs in the work force move to the Internet to provide their services with greater speed, courses in applied computing are becoming more popular. More are drawn to independent learning, underscoring the need for technology to keep up with the demand.

Diverse Locations in Learning

Online education is already witnessing tremendous technological advances that are improving upon the learning experience outside of the classroom. Many courses are going beyond the existing chat rooms and email formats to include a more interactive, audio and visual experience:
  • 3-dimensional tele-conferencing allows dialogue and more immediate correspondence.
  • Web casting and pod casting allows wide distribution of course materials and lectures.
  • Computers are being built to hold more storage and move at increasingly higher speeds. Internet usage rises every year.
Keeping track of technology as it builds online education into a vital, evolving force is almost impossible; changes and improvements are constantly being made to enhance the learning experience. One thing is certain: these advances have placed independence, mobility, and time in the hands of the student, whose performance speaks volumes.

  • Quality Framework for Online Education
  • "E-Learning Advances by Degrees" Tip Magazine, by Nancy Forbes, October/November 2001
About the Author:
Marianne Salina is a freelance writer in Spokane, Washington. She writes about pursuits in education and degree opportunities.