From the Editor: Learning Online

By Chelsey Lucas April 1, 2014

By Susan Burns

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More than 80 percent of all college students today are older than 22, don’t live on campus and probably have a job. For these millions of students, online education can be the solution to earning a degree.

Reporter Kim Hackett gives a fascinating view into the brave new world of online education in “Campus in the Cloud,” page 48. The state of Florida ranks high nationally in this new arena and is pushing this type of education. But it’s critical, Hackett says, to evaluate the institution. Not all online degrees are accredited, and students can waste time and money.

But is the online educational experience as rich? For those of us who went to small colleges, it’s hard to imagine how watching video lectures and communicating through online message boards can replace what happens in a classroom with a good professor and a handful of interested students. Much of the literature about online education confirms this shortcoming, and warns that online attrition rates are high. But for all of its challenges, online education is sure to improve and take us closer to the ideal of universal education. That’s good for students, for businesses and for our world.

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