Technology helps engage students

Projection slides allow art students to view and discuss works from all over the world. The moving images of videos can visually teach students about the way certain mechanisms work, or show film students how to use lighting, costumes, music and equipment. Speakers and headphones allow music students to learn style and finesse from previous composers and musicians. How do classroom instruction and social dynamics change when the classroom is completely dependant on modern technology?

Online classes are classes that use computers, computer software, and computer applications to education to anyone with access to the World Wide Web. Distance education brings the classroom to the student. Many individuals are now able to access a wealth of educational programs that were physically out of reach before online education. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 60.3% of all higher education institutions offer some form of distance education. That number increases every year as virtual classes grow in popularity.

The number of students enrolling in online MBA programs continues to grow because of the flexibility and convenience it offers. Imagine after a 10-hour day at work, and having to drive to class, listen to a 90-minute lecture, and then drive home to a busy household with little energy to study. Consider being able to drive right home after work, spend time with the family, and being able to listen to 45-minutes of the lecture, review the coursework and having the liberty to continue the lecture the following night without any repercussions. If the online business degree seems more plausible, then it is understandable how online education has grown in popularity.

As the cost of education increases, adults are less likely to be able to afford an advanced degree unless they are able to continue working. Online graduate programs allow professionals to continue working as they continue their education, allowing them the opportunity to take out fewer loans and more easily afford higher education.

On the social level, individuals commonly find online education isolating. Fewer group projects are assigned in online courses because students may not live in the same time-zone, making it difficult for students to network and interact with peers and classmates. Self-motivation is more difficult because courses are commonly self-paced. Students encounter difficulty with motivation because they may be able to postpone lectures and coursework. There are social benefits to online education. Students with disabilities and minority students have expressed feeling a greater sense of fairness because online courses allow a level anonymity. Individuals are judged on the merits of their work and written class participation, and not being treated differently due to ethnicity, disability, or culture.

Distance education is only beginning to blossom, and as more students and instructors become familiar with the technology and design, the delivery will only improve and the number and depth of the programs will only grow.