Up until now, online education has been relegated to the equivalent of a hobby at most universities. With the pandemic, it has become a backup plan. Nevertheless, if HBCUs embraced this moment strategically, online education could expand access exponentially and drop its cost by magnitudes — all while shoring up revenues for universities in a way that is more recession-proof, policy-proof and pandemic-proof.
Students are increasingly turning to online courses because they have become a better way to learn.
On a variety of measures, many students who have taken both face-to-face and online courses now rank their online experiences equal to or better than their more traditional classroom courses. We have reached a watershed moment when the discussion will no longer be about the relative merits of online learning, but how best to implement online programs for maximum effect on student enrollment and success.
Today is a very exciting time for technology and education. Online programs offer technology-based instructional environments that expand learning opportunities and can provide top quality education through a variety of formats and modalities. With the special needs of adult learners who need or want to continue their education, online programs offer a convenient solution to conflicts with work, family, and study schedules. Institutions of higher education have found that online programs are essential in providing access to education for the populations they wish to serve.
For an online program to be successful, the curriculum, the facilitator, the technology, and the students must be carefully considered and balanced to take full advantage of the strengths of this format and at the same time avoid pitfalls that could result from its weaknesses.