Friday, November 10, 2006

"More College Students Taking Web Courses" reports that there are More College Students Taking Web Courses. Hurray! Of course, such articles can be very useful to support arguments about how cool e-learning is, but I think that they can also be a bit misleading. Why? Well, because in a way they lead to the conclusion that quantity equals quality. The article makes me think more about those 38 percent of "chief academic officers" included in the reported survey that don't think that students learned as well or better from online courses (compared to face-to-face courses) and that perhaps think that the obstacles for online learning are just too big. This isn't such a small percentage - are we just going to ignore this number?

Of course, the report brings good news that the interest in online learning is growing, but with more students enrolled in online courses we also face the problem of having more demanding students. Students are expecting the online learning experience to be as good or even better than their previous face-to-face learning experiences. And if we want this to happen, we can't just let students in an online classroom and tell them to learn!

My personal experience shows that online students need quite some attention and support to deal with online learning, and that is why I think our efforts should be focused on developing ways and strategies for providing better online learning support. I believe that providing better support for students will also lead to even more positive quantitative statistical data and will help to kick most of the online learning barriers away. But for this to happen we must rethink our educational paradigm and start proving quality tutoring for online students. Among my favorite articles on this subject are Mark Prensky's E-nough! and Alfred Bork's Teaching and Learning are Often Mentioned Together.

So, I really hope that more articles and reports will be focusing on how to improve support for online students. And when we learn more about that and put it to work in practice, then perhaps it will be the right time to be truly proud of an increasing number of enrollments in online courses. Let's not forget that we are here for the students and that the key factor for our success is their satisfaction with online courses and not the number of students that give online courses a try (and perhaps drop out soon afterwards because of poor course delivery)!

Note: This is just an archive post. The blog has moved to a new home at, where you will also find a copy of the entire blog.