Thursday, November 10, 2011

25 Facts You Should Share During National Distance Learning Week

National Distance Learning Week always spans the second week of November, and considering the ever-increasing popularity of online colleges and classes, the holiday certainly doesn’t lack compelling content to share. Although it’s not yet a perfect system, Internet-based and other distance learning strategies remain an integral component of secondary and tertiary education these days. The following facts represent some (but not all) of the many findings researchers have dredged up about the ever-changing, ever-burgeoning field thus far. For further inquiry, check out the veritable litany of other studies out there, many of which are referenced in the following publications and websites.

  1. Between 2007 and 2008, 20.4% of American undergrads participated in distance education

    Either as part of the curriculum or the entire syllabus, for a total of about 4,277 American students. 769, or about 3.7%, conduct their whole education via distance programs.

  2. More female undergrads participate in distance education than male

    What accounts for the discrepancy remains unclear, though the gap between genders isn’t exactly staggering enough to warrant serious inquiry. Female students account for 21.8% of all distance learners and 4% of those completing their degrees completely online or through correspondence, compared to 18.6% and 3.3% of their male peers, respectively.

  3. Most undergraduates taking distance learning courses are white

    Just over 20% (2.8 million) of white undergrads in total took advantage of distance learning during the 2007-2008 school year, more than any other racial or ethnic demographic. Of these participants, 489,000 (3.8%) conducted their entire degree from a distance. Black students were the second most likely to pursue distance learning, with 592,000 (20.1%) attending at least one course and 145,000 (5%) loading up their schedules with nothing but such courses.

  4. Twenty-two percent of graduate students took distance learning courses during the 2007-2008 school year

    This accounts for about 0.8 million postbaccalaureates, and about 9% of those elected to complete their studies through such conduits.

  5. Distance education participation increased by 4% between the 2003-2004 and 2007-2008 school years

    Curiously enough, the span also witnessed a decrease in the amount of undergraduates taking their whole degree plan online or correspondence, with numbers dropping from 5% to 4% – so not really a significant decline.

  6. Distance learning is just as engaging as its classroom counterpart

    And many organizations offer grants to provide such opportunities to a more diverse range of kids, teens and adults! Creative teachers have been using technology to connect students on astounding virtual field trips they may not otherwise access for multiple reasons, for example. At the corporate level, some companies now offer tuition reimbursement for online degrees as a benefit. All of these positive signs point towards distance learning’s potential and recognition as a viable educational conduit.

  7. There are disadvantages, of course

    Because if imperfections didn’t exist in the system, it wouldn’t exist at all. Educator David R. Wetzel points out that distance learning programs falter when it comes to promoting social interaction between peers, an integral component of education. Feedback often comes slower as well, with students waiting for e-mails or snail mails to find out what needs improvement. Not to mention the serious fact that…

  8. …distance learning programs lag crazy behind when it comes to accessibility

    When it comes to numerous physical and learning disabilities, online and other distance education programs might prove completely disadvantageous. The University of North Carolina drew up some extremely detailed principals by which other schools might want to design their courses for broader accessibility. If the ostensible goal of distance learning involves reaching as many students as possible and providing them with flexible opportunities, this outline needs consideration and implementation so the disabled don’t end up even more marginalized.

  9. Most DETC students are middle-aged adults

    The Distance Education Training Council is one of the more prominent accreditation institutions out there, and the vast majority of their schools cater to adults between the ages of 41 and 45, with an average salary between $61,000 and $71,000 annually. Forty percent of all students (not just those in that particular bracket) enjoy tuition reimbursement (or even outright payment) from their employers.

  10. Master’s degrees are their most popular offerings

    Amongst all the schools DETC accredits, Master’s degrees end up conferred at the highest rate, accounting for 37% of diploma earnings. Bachelor’s degrees come in second, making up 27% of rewarded degrees, followed by 26% for Associate’s, 7% for the Juris Doctor, and 3% for a First Professional Degree. According to DETC, these all take an average of 3.4 years to complete.

  11. Students who elect to take online courses at some point perform better than those who don’t

    The highly technical Department of Education study, however, only discovered this at the collegiate level. When it comes to kindergarten through 12th grade, researchers think their findings would probably apply as well.

  12. Public schools are more likely to offer distance learning programs than private

    In fact, 70.7% believe offering online classes and degrees remains "critical" to their long-term success and survival! Private, nonprofit schools approach the subject with more cynicism, with only 47.1% holding such an opinion. Their for-profit equivalents see things more favorably, as 53.2% think online education will prove pivotally beneficial.

  13. Only 16% of schools offering online engineering programs host them in a fully digital capacity

    Which makes perfect sense, considering the heavy practical element to the major. By contrast, 33% of business and 24% of psychology degree plans with an internet component can be earned completely online. As it stands, engineering makes for one of the least popular online degree programs, with other disciplines hovering at roughly similar (if not equal) penetration rates.

  14. Private, for-profit schools are more likely to offer programs tailored to military personnel

    Far more likely, actually, with 23.9% reporting back that they offer degree programs specifically for members of the Armed Forces and their unique education needs. Only 9.2% of public schools provide the same perks, and private nonprofits really lag behind, with 6.8% helping out military students.

  15. Nearly 80% of school administrators cite flexibility as their main motivation for offering online courses

    The faculty themselves, however, are not as sold on this ideal, since only a smidge over 60% think it a viable motivating factor. Although both demographics do believe flexibility the primary reason to start serving students online offerings.

  16. Administrators at private, for-profit and public schools consider more of their teachers receptive to online learning than their private, nonprofit equivalents

    And private, for-profits claim this at a rate of 69.7%, just barely over public’s 68.7% positive response. Once one gets to the private, nonprofit level, only 46.8% of administrators believe their teachers embrace the potential of online courses.

  17. At the K-12 level, two-thirds of American public schools now offer online or blended classes

    Sixty percent think their enrollment will increase over time, with the last poll conducted in 2007. The 2005-2006 school year saw 63.1% of students in responding districts enrolled in either a blended or fully online class, 57.9% in just an online course and 32.4% in just a blended one.

  18. Rural school districts are more likely to embrace online education over urban and suburban

    Which makes sense, considering the amount of physical isolation many rural districts must grapple against. Forty-six percent of rural school districts report one or more students enrolled in a distance education course, as opposed to 28% in suburban and 23% in urban. "Two-way interactive video" is considered the most important tool across the board, with 49% of districts considering it essential to their continued success.

  19. Thirty-eight percent of public high schools offer some degree of distance education

    Combined and/or schools follow behind, with 20% embracing distance education. Four percent of middle and junior high schools do so as well, and elementary schools — at less than 1% — are the least likely to provide such opportunities.

  20. And those high schoolers taking advantage do so to gain a leg up once they hit college

    Fourteen percent of (total!) distance learning enrollees did so in order to earn Advanced Placement credits. If they weren’t taking AP, they were still studying at the collegiate level, as 48% of high school students taking distance education classes did so through a postsecondary institution during the 2003-2002 school year.

  21. Between the 2008-2009 school year, 34.4% of faculty at public tertiary institutions reported they had taught online

    This accounts for over 1/3 of public school faculty in America, and when Sloan Consortium was initially conducting the study, 23.6% said they were currently teaching an internet-based class. Such statistics reveal that a hearty selection of educators possess the skill sets necessary to provide the best distance education opportunities possible. Assuming they pay attention to accessibility standards, anyways.

  22. Non-tenure track professors are more likely to teach online courses

    Although the gap between the two isn’t exactly huge: 27.6% of Internet-based classes are spearheaded by non-tenure track faculty members, compared to 21.1% of tenured. Interestingly enough, however, tenured professors tend to possess more online class experience! Once again, though, statistics tend to run neck-and-neck, since 36.1% of the tenure track boast such skills, compared to 35.7% of the non-tenured and 32.6% of the tenured. When it comes to overall teaching experience, all demographics but those with very little were equally likely to take up teaching online classes.

  23. Online educators consider digital classrooms more work than traditional ones

    Even though distance education means to make life easier for students, when it comes to their teachers, the numbers reverse. Sixty-four percent of instructors consider their online classes "somewhat more" or "a lot more" taxing than their in-person counterparts. And a staggering 85% admit that the development process requires "somewhat more" and "a lot more" investment over more traditional structures.

  24. Poor search skills prove extremely problematic in online courses

    When the National Institute for Literacy conducted an assessment of the study skills needed for passing distance learning courses, one obvious but still interesting slip of data emerged. Adult students in particular struggle if they don’t possess the search term abilities necessary to dredge up research. Faculty and administrators involved in the development process should take this into consideration when designing their courses to make sure as many participants efficiently succeed as possible.

  25. Ninety-two percent of adult ESOL students in California consider computers an effective classroom tool

    Those hailing from more blended classrooms typically fared far better after leaving the course, with accomplishments including landing more satisfying jobs, completing their GEDs and improved community immersion and activity. California refers to their online program as English for All, and other states with heavy populations of non-native speakers might easily benefit from emulating their effective strategies.

Taken From Best Colleges Online

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