With the advancement of technology, more and more people are enjoying convenience in fulfilling their various goals in life including that of obtaining education. A growing number of schools are now offering online degree programs in response to the need of busy working professionals and homemakers who lack the time to pursue a college degree. The convenience and flexibility these online schools offer are what normally attracts people to get an education via the Internet.
Online learning is gaining ground in the different parts of the world but is more popular than ever in the United States. A 2005 report entitled “Growing by Degrees: Online Education in the U.S.” confirmed a very bright future for online education with an enrollment growth rate over ten times the prediction of the National Center for Education Statistics. It revealed that online enrollment in the U.S. rose from 1.98 million in 2003 to 2.35 million in 2004.
An officer of Career College Association (CCA) disclosed that more than one million students were enrolled in fully online programs in the U.S. in 2005 while at least 55 CCA member institutions have purely online colleges. Among the popular online programs at the undergraduate and professional levels are business, technology, education, psychology and human services, according to Bruce Leftwich, CCA’s vice president for government relations. He said that flexibility in the delivery of online education is the key factor considered by those who would not be able to attend a traditional school like single parents, persons with disabilities and working professionals. With online learning, these people are given a choice to meet their needs according to their specific situations in life. It is also affordable as most online schools offer scholarships and grants as well as other financial aid programs.
Since the inception of e-learning, the technology being utilized has also improved. Current technology has allowed many online universities to provide students with numerous ways to interact with their faculty and classmates such as through email, bulletin boards and discussion groups. Interaction has a more positive impact on a student’s motivation and performance than just sitting alone before a computer accomplishing his or her assigned work. In online education, students are usually given passwords for them to log on. Upon logging in, they must follow course requirements for a certain day hence, their attendance and participation are being monitored. They are also able to connect with course facilitators and interact with other students unique only in online learning. Compared to the brick and mortar setting, online learning provides one on one mentoring which really help some students to succeed.
Education authorities agree that public acceptance of online education will continue to grow and although it may not surpass the traditional university programs, it is more likely that most graduates who join the workforce will have obtained experience with an online learning format at some point of their educational pursuit. Leftwich added that a significant factor to the growth e-learning is that more business organizations are putting importance to online education. In fact, a study by the American Society for Training and Development revealed that an estimated 29 percent of corporate tuition reimbursements go to online or blended programs. This goes to show that some working professionals indeed find it easy to pursue an online education.