Online education creditable?
To receive a college degree, one usually envisions walking manicured college campuses, sitting in a classroom lecture from a highly educated professor, and participating in guided lab work. Yet, more and more students are choosing an alternative route to higher education.
According to a report by Associated Press, since 2010 online college course enrollment has increased by 29 percent according to the Community College Research Center, which also noted that 6.7 million students – roughly one-third of all college students – are enrolled in online courses.
LSU System President F. King Alexander said that he sees three major constituencies for online learning.
First, military personnel are in a prime position to continue studies while serving abroad.
Southern University’s Baton Rouge campus now offers online degrees in criminal justice, interdisciplinary studies and public administration.
Southern’s online programs, while relatively new, are poised to grow, SU Chancellor James Llorens told a separate meeting of The Advocate’s editorial board.
As university leaders struggle to maintain and grow enrollment with declining state support, online learning might seem like a relatively inexpensive way to handle more students.
On that point, use extra caution. It would be detrimental to the university system to see online programs devolve into diploma mills, which is why stringent accrediting procedures are so critical.
Alexander and Llorens both acknowledged the need for those kinds of quality controls, and think that philosophy is important as online learning becomes more embedded in education culture.
The goal for online learning – and for any learning – should be expanding opportunity, not expedience.
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