Thursday, August 31, 2006

Online education reaches more students...

Inside Higher Ed today reports on a new initiative at the University of Illinois to create an online division. There is some controversy about this as many academics see online teaching and learning as a less than desirable way to teach. I happen to know the President of Illinois, Joe White, who is featured on the Illinois homepage today, and he is a very thoughtful and visionary person. Joe was an associate Dean and later Dean of the Ross School of Business when I was an MBA student there.

After two experiences, I am convinced that Illinois is doing the right thing. My younger brother would not be going to college if he didn't have an online option. He is raising three young daughters and Phoenix online allows him to finally go back to school to get his degree. I have watched him take his classes and I know how much work he is doing and what he is learning in the process. It has been the right thing for him.

My second experience is first-hand, as I took a class at NCSU this past spring in Digital Marketing from Professor Michael Rappa. Dr. Rappa created this course several years ago as a way to create the most up-to-date course on the digital enterprise. There are no textbooks--all of the material is online. Last year, he taught one section in the classroom and one section online--I chose the online section as a way to make it fit into my other coursework at UNC. I loved the course so much that I plan to teach it when I graduate, either in person or online or both.

The world is changing and not everyone has the luxury of spending 4 years and $100,000 to go away to college. Online education can make it possible for more students to get a college degree.


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