In the early days of online education, a commonly discussed phenomenon was the low completion rates of students. Some chose to explain the departure of students using characteristics such as lack of social integration and academic integration for students matriculating in online programs as identified by Vincent Tinto and others. As technologies utilized in the classroom improved and subsequently, online teaching techniques, student persistence improved as well, but not close to the levels sustained by some of the best face-to-face programs.
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On October 26, 2009, the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) issued the results of its first annual survey of Provosts and Chief Academic Officers. When I read the press release and skimmed through the survey, I asked Dr. Jennifer Stephens, our Associate Vice President and Dean of Assessment, to provide me with a guest article describing the survey and the significant findings.
I placed a pre-publication order for Curtis Bonk’s latest book, The World is Open: How Web Technology is Revolutionizing Education, and was not disappointed when it arrived. Bonk, Professor of Instructional Systems Technology at Indiana University, identifies ten key trends in technology that are impacting education as we know it. He has coined an acronym, WE-ALL-LEARN, for those trends that are identified as:
• Web Searching in the World of e-Books
• E-Learning and Blended Learning
• Availability of Open Source and Free Software
• Leveraged Resources and OpenCourseWare
• Learning Object Repositories and Portals
• Learner Participation in Open Information Communities
• Electronic Collaboration
• Alternate Reality Learning
• Real-Time Mobility and Portability
• Networks of Personalized Learning
There are very good reasons why more than 620,000 students are currently enrolled with regionally accredited online higher education institutions: their high-quality bachelor’s and master’s degree programs are affordable, convenient, and lead to both personal and professional enrichment. Some of the best universities leverage the power of the internet to help advance students’ knowledge, critical thinking skills and exposure to diverse ideas and people required for success in today’s complex, digitally-connected world.