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Surveys Show Americans See Quality of Online Education

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According to a new Gallup survey of Americans aged 18 and older, a majority of the 1,000 adults responding believe online instruction is “at least as good” as classroom-based courses in terms of value, offering a format in which most students can succeed, and tailored instruction.

When asked to rate online vs. face-to-face courses based on the courses’ reach and quality, more Americans rated online courses as better than traditional courses in five categories. While many questioned the rigor of testing and grading, and whether employers viewed online degrees as positively as those received from traditional, brick-and-mortar institutions, most of the respondents rated online courses as the same or better on all criteria measured but the latter.

While some credibility challenges clearly remain for distance education as a whole, previous misunderstandings about online instruction are diminishing as more graduates are surpassing employer expectations in the field. And with most brick-and-mortar institutions transitioning their education models to harness the benefits of blended or predominately online course delivery—there’s a seismic shift underway from a society that once questioned online learning to one that demands it. Online learning platforms can offer unique advantages to educators, including early data to identify at-risk students and scalable delivery of personalized content to students to enhance learning outcomes. I believe that such third-party validation from the Gallup survey, reinforced by employer sentiments, makes an increasingly strong case that distance learning and academic quality aren’t mutually exclusive.

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Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston continues to serve as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, and as a member of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.

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