There is much discussion about colleges that offer online classes, but in order to refine those classes, we need student feedback. Online courses, MOOCs (massive open online courses) and hybrid learning models are growing so fast that most colleges can’t keep up. To maintain the quality of the education while expanding, colleges need to take a careful look at their professors, their technology platforms and their student body.
Ranked first in the nation for online education by SR Education Group, California University of Pennsylvania is a model for staying one step ahead of the technology evolution:
One school that has experienced significant growth is California University of Pennsylvania. Total enrollment for the online program has ballooned from 300 students in graduate programs in 2005 to about 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students in 2012, said Millie Rodriguez, executive director of the school's Office of Web-Based Programs. The university's total student body is about 10,000, she said.
At Cal U, professors teaching online classes have the same standards and expectations as they do for on-campus students, Ms. Rodriguez said.
Online students still have weekly assignments, readings, lectures, class discussions and even group projects, she said.
"A lot of students don't have an opportunity to quit working to earn their degree," Ms. Rodriguez said. "This way, they can earn their degree after they're done working and having dinner and playing with their kids and putting their kids to bed -- as long as you have access to the Internet, you can take our programs online."
Read Growing number of college students choose online courses on Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
This student review on Guide to Online Schools gives you an idea of the kinds of students who take online classes and how education fits into their lives:
I have never been to Pennsylvania in my life but I have been able to attend their school and I feel like I have received a quality education.
I loved the online format that allowed me to "go" to school at anytime of the day or night. I work full time so this has been a real benefit. I interacted with students from other areas of the country and learned about their teaching experiences. I would suggest this school to anyone that wants to attend school online for an affordable price.
The infographic below provides greater detail about today’s online college students. It’s unfair to paint with a broad brush since online students come from all walks of life, but the research behind the graphic gives you an idea of the trends seen by higher education professionals.