Higher Education Coordinating Board, institutions of higher education are looking for innovative ways to provide access to more students. Is the solution virtual?
Increasing numbers of students are going to school and even completing some degree programs online, taking courses that typically involve no face-to-face interaction with a professor. According to a report released earlier this year by the Babson College Research Group and The Sloan Consortium, more than 4.6 million students nationwide were enrolled in online post secondary courses in the fall of 2008 — a 17 percent increase from the previous year. In the same period, the overall student population in higher ed grew by just 1.2 percent.
An immediate benefit of such virtual learning is that it provides students — especially employed students — an added degree of flexibility in their schedule. « Teachers, more than any other master’s students I’m aware of, are almost 100 percent employed, » says Paula Nichols, the executive director of the Division of Distance Learning at Lamar. The three master’s programs offered by the public-private partnerships allow them to further their education without commuting long distances after work — and it allows Lamar to reach a population of degree-seekers beyond their usual pool.