To me, the fact that distance learning is the way of the future of education seems to be a given. Just a logical thought that I am shocked not everyone agrees on. Not that online college has as many dissenters as it once did. On the contrary, it has grown beyond what anyone expected ten years ago. Just look at these fast facts by the US Department of Education.
According to a study done by Ambient Insight, called the Global Self-Paced eLearning Market Research Forecasts, the number on online students is about to explode. They have taken data from current and already successful graduates, plus enrollment data and surveys and predicted that by 2015 there will be 25 million post-secondary students involved in online education.
Why This Makes Sense
You might be thinking that this is, after all, only a prediction. It is not yet established fact, and 2015 isn’t very far away. How will distance education extend so far, so fast? It might seem far fetched, but let’s take a moment to consider a few things.
First, you have the economy. While it has improved since the initial slump in 2004 that almost had us crashing in 2008, it isn’t over. Slowly, we are seeing improvements in the job market. But not so much that employers can’t still be extremely picky.
For example, I recently saw an ad on Craigslist advertising for a technical support agent. Any other time, I have seen these jobs requiring only a high school diploma/GED, and a few years of experience working in a technical field with a customer support background. This employer was asking for a minimum of a Bachelor’s, despite only paying $12 per hour.
With this kind of mentality rampant, more people want to go back to school. But no one has money, much less the ability to bail on work and become a student full time. Not to mention, most of these people are adults with families. Which limits their time even more.
This simple fact alone is enough to show why a boom in distance learning is imminent. We are probably in the midst of it right now, if statistics on the subject are to be believed.
Why This Is A Great Thing
Traditional education is outdated. It forced you to conform to a certain mold, and if you cannot afford it or find the time for it, you can’t participate. Not to mention, some people just don’t do well in an academic setting. They need something more relaxed or familiar to get them through.
Now, you add in the cost of university in and of itself. Overinflated due to colleges in debt, it means tuition skyrockets to cover costs. The price of an education now means most cannot afford an education. Even those who have parents that saved for years to give their children one. It is a sick form of class segregation that has become the norm in the US.
All around, it is a great change in the education system that has been badly needed.
So, Why The Bad Rep?
Admittedly, online colleges were not always good. In fact, most were scams and unaccredited. But that was years ago, and it is almost unheard of to get burned by online education if you do even a small amount of research into the school of your choice. Now even Ivy League universities are getting on board, and it is hard to argue their quality.
The short answer to this question then, is: people have been misinformed by outdated information. Which is a shame, because they are missing out on an incredible opportunity that has been afforded us due to the evolution of modern technology. Don’t be one of them, and enroll in a distance education course today.