The rise of online learning has forever changed the educational landscape. Online courses enable a greater number of students to have access to a higher education without all the added time and financial costs that traditional campus learning requires. In fact, over 4,600,00 college students are currently taking at least one of their classes online and by 2014 this number will increase to 18,650,000. By 2019, half of ALL classes will be done online. All seems well in the online education industry, at least according to enrollment numbers. However, there is little information on how well these students do in this online environment.
A study conducted by Columbia University’s Community College Research Center investigated this further. The researchers focused their study on Washington State and examined 500,000 courses taken by more than 40,000 community- and technical-college students. Their results indicate that all students who take more online courses, no matter the demographic, are less likely to attain a degree. However, some groups—including black students, male students, younger students, and students with lower grade-point averages—are particularly susceptible to this pattern. Though they did find that older students who juggle studying and raising a family, female students, and students who are typically higher-performing, experienced a marginal difference between online and physical classrooms.
Shanna Smith Jaggars, one of the paper’s authors, said the widening gap could imply that online learning is weakening—not strengthening—education equality.
To read more, visit the Chronicle of Higher learning