Benefits of Creating an Online Degree Program in Higher Education
(A summary of Haythornthwaite, C. A., & Kazmer, M. M. (2004). Online education culture and learning: Research and practice. New York: P. Lang )
Online learning otherwise referred to as E-learning is currently the in thing in the 21st century. It has altered dramatically and transformed how we viewed attending classes in the past. It involves a student attending his or her classes from the comfort of their home without physically being there for class. It integrates the use of the internet and computer technology in the delivery of lessons by teachers to the students. A research conducted by an organization for the Education Department showed that in a tested performance, the students engaged in online lessons would grade in around 59th percentile in comparison to the normal student attending regular classes who would rank in 50th percentile. This for sure tells that online learning is headed places, and it is the future.
People who are already in the working environment and cannot attend regular classes are considered in these programs; the beauty of online learning is that you can have your lessons anywhere! The selling point of these programs is that they charge cheaper compared to regular classes and they take a shorter duration of time to complete. A course that would take four years to complete in a regular class takes only three years on maximum to complete. It is also a lifesaver to the international student as he can attend classes even without flying to the host country. A study conducted by an organization for the Education Department brought interesting findings; it showed that online learning could be more suitable than the conventional classes. Initially, we viewed the online lessons as better to nothing but now it is competing with the normal classes to rank as a much better choice.
Reasons to Consider Online Learning
(A summary of Goldstein, L. (2005). A Guide to College & University Budgeting. Foundations for Institutional Effectiveness. Publisher: N.A.C.U. Business Officers.)
Online programs have numerous advantages the list is endless. In this paper, I will lay my focus on some of the reasons that our institution has to take to mind as we consider offering these programs. So why should we offer online programs?
Flexibility: Students faces two major hurdles in their quest for more knowledge time factor and the location issue. Online learning tackles both of these hence making learning convenient for everyone. One can study at their own time when they feel that they are free. In conventional classes, we have fixed timetables whereby one has to be there at a specific time or else miss the lessons. Due to our busy schedules at times, it is impossible to make it to some classes. In online programs, students have the leisure of studying at the times that they want. You could study at five in the morning, at midnight…whenever you feel like it. This option is very friendly especially in companies and to those people who are working and are only seeking to further their studies. They can choose only to study for two hours in the evening or at their own free time over break hour and lunch hour. This is economical for the companies that want to upgrade the skills of some of their employees, as they do not have to let go of them. This means no loss for the company as they go about upgrading their employees and letting them further their skills, this is a plus for them. The program is open to adjustments hence tailored to fit into anyone’s busy schedule (Howard etl, 2012).
Accessibility: Online lessons also tackle the issue of location. One does not have to attend the actual classes as you can access the educational resources from virtually any place one is, provided one has a connection to the internet and a gadget such as a tablet, Smartphone or a laptop. Our institution will not only rely on our domestic market here but also on overseas students, students in our neighboring countries, neighbor states and even those in other continents. This is a great way to attract international students and people based in far away locations. It is also appealing and convenient to companies and that working person who wants to further their education. This is because they do not have to incur transportation costs to the place of study, and it does not strain them. This hence opens a new market for us as an institution. Online programs also open doors to lots of resources for the student. There are many resources online including books, journals, videos etcetera. Bringing all this to the doorstep of the student without breaking a sweat makes the program appealing to the busy student (Stephenson, 2001).
Increased Student-Student and Student-Instructor Interaction: Online learning has a component that enables them to enhance communication. They integrate chat applications and messenger clients that enable communication, which may be between the student and another student, student, and a teacher or the administration at large. This is particularly helpful to the student who is shy and finds it hard to approach a fellow student or the lecturer with a question. With online learning, one does not have to trace someone physically to ask a question as it is made easy all you have to do is inbox your query. The second party then replies at their own time making it convenient compared to the conventional methods. This hence appeals to some people and, therefore, taps a new market for us. Synergy is also highly encouraged as there is a dynamic interaction between the students and their instructor, ideas, information and resources with a smooth flow. Discussions among the different parties greatly contribute to this synergy.
The discussions in online platforms are of high quality. This is because it gives a student time to ponder on the comments and contributions of other students before making a comment of their own. A student can review previous contributions and hence it gives time for digestion of information and people can easily correct each other. In conventional learning methods it does not give a student to analyze and digest information before contributing, it also does not allow for future references. This allows the student to participate actively and contribute to the class discussions as well as absorb a cocktail of information contributed by other students. The online platform also allows for some level of anonymity. This will shield the students from any forms of discrimination be it gender-based discrimination, age-based discrimination, disability-related or racial. This shall be appealing to the market we have not tapped into yet (Bender, 2012).
Competitiveness: many of the big names already offer online classes. Included in this category are the likes of Harvard and Oregon State, us following suit makes us appealing to the person who follows names of prestige. This makes us relevant to the market and gives us a competitive edge as we receive recognition and earn our space among the giants in terms of education provision. With this, we have an advantage over those institutions that have not yet integrated online programs in their curriculum. With this competitive edge, I believe we shall plow in more revenue.
Expansion: Online learning programs are a form of expansion for our institution. It is an expansion worth far much less than the normal expansion process. If we were to expand our services to nearby towns, nearby states or even overseas countries we would have to invest in sending a team to the ground to assess the area, invest in setting up facilities and buildings, paying rents and rates among other costs. In our view, online learning expands our market to far towns, the student in the remote places of our state, students from neighboring states, a busy working person and international market at large with less money. In growing our market base, we are sure going to get more revenues and in the process spend less. This will guarantee us profits in the end (Stephenson, 2001).
Appealing to today’s business environment: Today, most companies and organizations have expanded their operations. We find workers in different locations, different states, and even continents. Online would be the way forward if the organizations wanted to upgrade the skills of the workers. Take the example of Coca-Cola Company; the company is located in almost every nation around the world. If the company wanted to upgrade the skills of its marketing department, for example, it would be tedious and much expensive process to put all the workers in conventional classes. It would also lead to the workers having different skills, as the education may not be uniform in the different countries and schools around the world. If the company wanted to find a cheaper and effective method, they would turn to online lessons. This is because enrolling their workers in online classes in one institution ensures that there is uniformity in the skills imparted to the workers. It is also easy to track the progress of the students and, in the long run, saves the company money. In our case, it would mean one new client to our books who would come with hundreds of thousands of potential students along. This can be a major achievement to our institution and a big step forward (Finkelstein, 2006).
Online marketing is the way forward; it opens new opportunities and markets we have never looked into before. There is a bright future that prevails for those who embrace the change in society. As the old saying goes, ‘the client is always right’. We have to bend according to their wishes to attract them. I recommend that we embrace online learning to soar to our potential.
Bender, T. (2012). Online teaching enhancing student learning. Sterling, VA: Stylys.
Finkelstein, J. (2006).Synchronous teaching and online learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, A John Wiley & Sons Imprint.
Goldstein, L. (2005). A Guide to College & University Budgeting. Foundations for Institutional Effectiveness. National Association of College & University Business Officers.
Haythornthwaite, C. A., & Kazmer, M. M. (2004). Online education culture and learning: Research and practice. New York: P. Lang.
Ko, S. S., & Rossen, S. (2010). Teaching online: A practical guide. New York: Routledge.
Stephenson, J. (2001). Teaching & learning online. London: Kogan Page.
Howard, C., Schenk, K., & Discenza, R. (2012). Distance learning and university effectiveness: Changing educational paradigms for online learning. Hershey, PA: Information Science Pub.