Qualityof Online Education and Pedagogy
Qualityof Online Education and Pedagogy
Asthe frequencies of web-based trainings and degree programs continueto grow, Anderson (2009) argued that considerable interests regardingconcerns and constraints related to online education and its qualityare emerging. Specifically, challenges associated with the quality ofonline learning such as the lack of agreement on what constitutesquality education, the need for separate quality assurance standards,and the low (or no) quality standards attached to the online learningprograms pose major uncertainties. Notably, online education is a newapproach to learning that incorporate distance training withface-to-face instructions that make use of computer-mediatedcommunication system it is the Internet-enabled method and hasseveral features that differentiates it from the traditionalteacher-student classroom learning. Such features as worldwide weband computer-based communication, minimal discrimination andprejudice, and the shift in social dimension from the face-o-faceinteraction are primary ingredients of online education the systemhas a minimum proportion of 80% of the course content offered throughthe internet.
Althoughonline learning is progressively stabilizing in the 21st century, amajor challenge that confronts education practitioners is the extentto which the paradigm shifts in training and learning should beconformed to match pedagogy and technology. Pedagogical shifts arefrom instructive to constructivist while technology involves changefrom classroom to online. Online education has gained popularitybecause of its strengths in providing more supple access toinstruction and content from any place and at any time the traineesare not restricted to use a particular location (classroom) like inthe traditional learning system. The approach focuses on increasinglearning experience availability to students who are not in aposition (either by choice or otherwise) attend the originalface-to-face trainings as much as it assembles and disseminateinstructional content cost-effectively. Besides, online educationallows education practitioners to attend to more learners whilemaintaining a quality learning outcome reminiscent of the ancientface-to-face method the popularity of the system has thus risen overthe years in the United States and the world as a whole (Allen &Seaman, 2010).
Alongsidethe rising demands for internet-based learning, various institutionshave been established to offset the need, and these include thenon-profit and for-profit online schools each of these entities hasunique approaches to online education. For-profit online schools haveover the years established (from 3% in the 1999 to 9% in 2009) in theUnited States and as private-sector institutions they are activeplayers in the expansion of online learning by offering loans tostudents and creating dose employer associations (Harasim, 2013).Until 2009, these organizations accrued a lot of profits in themarket, but afterward, the regulations introduced by the UnitedStates Government regarding loan repayment has seen a gradual declineof these organizations. For-profit institutions are argued to offerprograms that are more flexible, responsive, and convenient comparedto the community college counterparts an example is the Universityof Phoenix in the United States of America (Cellini, 2012).Conversely, non-profit schools are strictly engaged in the provisiononline education without any intentions to undertake profit-orientedoperations the primary revenue source for such institutions is thefunding by the State as well as aids from willing donors (Buckmaster,2009). Unlike for-profit institutions which are subject to taxationby the national administration, non-profits are free from such thelatter schools have more time to invest in training and havetherefore recorded better performance among the online learners.
Asa summation, many questions can be asked and answers providedconcerning online education, and pedagogy and such is the aim of thispaper, which utilizes literature sources to examine the trends inonline learning, strategies in place for quality outcomes, strengthsand weaknesses of internet-based training and availablesolutions/intervention measures. More specifically, the study gives asuccinct insight into for-profit and non-profit online schools andworks to establish the strategies each applies to meet the outcomestandards in a similar version to the face-to-face learning.
ACritique into Online Education
Althoughmany learning institutions are still in the experimental stages ofimplementing and initiating online education, the proportion ofschools reporting the program as a primary part of their long-termapproach has increased over time. According to the 2016 survey byBoston Research Group, about 63% of the learning institutions in theUnited States have accepted online learning as their key long-termstrategy for exploit in the future. That is an indication thatschools have come to terms with the fact that the usual method ofteacher-student association in a classroom setting should bepotentiated by a web-based training program to ensure that studentsare competent enough regarding internet technology (Allen &Seaman, 2016). Despite the 2014-2015 declines in the number ofeducation practitioners who supported the notion, the perceptions ononline training remained positive among the institutions that couldaccess and or afford the program, with the only category holdingnegative views being schools that did not offer internet-basedlearning. Hence, the reports that online education was a good ideadropped from 70.2% in 2014 to 46% in 2015 among small institutionshowever, an overall statistics show that more than 70% of the publicschools have supported the idea consistently for the last half adecade, a rate that remains higher than that of other learningentities like the private nonprofit and for-profit schools (Means etal., 2015).
Regardingthe number of students opting for Internet-based learning, theexisting statistics show that there is a consistent increase in thenumber of enrollments at a rate higher than that of face-to-faceeducation. In 2013, the number of learners attending at least oneonline course projected by at least 411,000 to 7.1 million this isan implication that there are certain strengths and or opportunitiesrelated to web-based education that compels more students to go forthe program. In fact, the proportion of graduate trainees who take atleast a course online persists at the highest mean of 33.9% and onthat basis, institutions should redefine their strategies, long-termin particular, to include internet-based teaching so as to offset therising demand that has been recorded over the years (Allen &Seaman, 2013). Although some schools are trying out Massive OpenOnline Courses (MOOCs) currently, a survey by Allen & Seaman(2013) showed that most learning institutions (53%) were yet todecide about offering such courses while 33% were completely againstthe idea. Moreover, only 23% of the teaching practitioners held thebelief that MOOCs is sustainable and worth implementation however,most of the experts are concerned about the credentials for theonline course completion, regarding it as a potential harm to thequality that has been traditionally accorded to the higher educationdegrees over the years.
Inas much as quality issues grow in the online education sector, therising trends as they relate to the demands of internet-base learningwas realized in 2016 when more students enrolled in online coursescompared to the rate noted during the 2012-2014 period. The year(2016) also features a decline in the number of learners who attendlessons physically in the United State’s learning institutions, anindication that the country is slowly coming to terms with onlineeducation as one of the best learning methods. Similarly, Dabbagh etal. (2016) institutions are adopting the MOOCs approach and providingopportunities for web-based courses, and by 2016, public universitieshad enrolled more online students (about 2,400,000) than the privatenonprofit (approximately 300,000) and private profit institutions(around 200,000). However, it is important noted that the privatefor-profit institutions enrolled more trainees for full-time onlineeducation (not part time) because their advertisements are mostlylimited to entirely internet-based learning that does not require oneto access a physical school (Bailey, Badway & Gumport, 2011).
Fromthe considerations above, it is apparent that the trends of onlineteaching are slowly gaining momentum over the years amidst qualityconcerns, and the legitimate question to address would be, “arethere any learning strategies or management systems in place toguarantee high standard outcomes in internet-based education?” Manyonline training programs such as project-based learning,gamification, and synchronous instruction are in place for exploit,but the question of how systems are managed to produce quality is anessential area of scrutiny.
OnlineLearning Management Systems
Onlinepedagogy must be designed in a way that the ultimate result oftraining is quality in the credentials offered the curriculum mustkeep pace with the shifts that result when the training approachchanges from the traditional classroom teaching, that is, strategiesmust be in place to handle the pedagogical shifts (instructive toconstructivist) and technology (classroom to online) (Allen& Seaman, 2010).Because the success of web-based education depends on how well theparties involved present digital contents, most online schools haveopted for a learning management system (LMS). LMS is an onlineplatform which permits the sharing of tools, materials, activities,and resources with the trainees without necessarily having to engagein a face-to-face interaction it enables the teaching practitionersto provide customized instructions accessible to the learnersanywhere, anytime, and without any geographical restriction (Mtebe,2015).
Specifically,LMS has distinct teaching and design elements which suits students ofall grades it contains a standard assemblage of tools utilized tofacilitate online learning and discussions, with a threadeddiscussion forum crucial in fostering learning through communicationand collaboration. Other tools like the assessment and online gradebooks serve in enhancing the productivity of tutors as well astracking the achievement of students alongside ensuring that everycourse offered meets the projected objectives of the curriculum. Atthis point, it is obvious that LMS shares some features with thetraditional education however, its uniqueness bases on flexibilityin which it favors access anytime, anywhere and also presents a timefor reflection and student’s anonymity. Most importantly, LMSanchors a conventional system of convenience and support for all theplayers involved in academic growth including the teachers, parents,students, and support staff it is the embodiment of quality as faras online education is concerned (Oblinger, 2012). What are some ofthe benefits of LMS?
LMShas a wide array of advantages related to communication,accessibility, time, flexibility, community, variety, andcollaboration, which seemingly, are the key ingredients that must bein place for quality pedagogy irrespective of the type of trainingmethod (Mtebe, 2015). First, online LMS can be accessed by alllearners regardless of their geographical locations learningentities can thus cover a vast and diverse population of trainees theworld over as long as they are enrolled. Besides, it offers a sitewhere students can access and share assignments as well as thecontents of the course right from their homes as much as it promotesglobalization that features settings that are open and flexible tolearning. Secondly, it is easy to channel communication via the LMStechnology, and that covers the areas of e-mail, discussion forums,videoconferencing, announcement posts, and real-time messaging(Palloff & Pratt, 2010).
Furthermore,LMS technology has solved the problem of time limitation as it allowstutors to post (surplus) content and materials that support pedagogyand on that regard, learning activities progress smoothly without theneed for classroom schedules and frustrations that accompanyinadequate class time. Similarly, LMS provides many options forlearning to the trainees who are free to opt for a video, interactionsimulations, photos, audio, or articles also, students can utilizebuilt-in features and file sharing tools as collaborative featuresfor group projects (Rosenberg, 2012). Another contribution of LMS toquality online education is its tendency to permit flexibility inwhich trainees can learn at a different time, and the unique needs ofevery learner is met students can revisit the online platform torecheck the contents and that gives them more control (and ownership)over their learning. Finally, the technology unites a community ofstudents through link and file sharing, discussions, and real-timemessaging and with the learners coming together to share knowledge,it is likely that the outcome of online education mimics that offace-to-face training with respect to quality (Oblinger, 2012).
Thereare many LMS features/tools designed for application by onlineeducators to improve education quality and these include theBlackboard, Edmodo, Google Sites, Moodle, Desire2Learn, Edu2.0,Schoology, and Rcamps just to mention some (Palloff & Pratt,2010). First, Blackboard is a complete online education software thatincorporates a mobile application and real-time collaboration toolsas well as assessment features of built-in reports, test generator,and interactive rubrics. On the other hand, Edmodo software enhancesonline learning through social media and collaboration it wasdesigned solely for educational purposes and offers a rich forum forassessment, homework, mobile learning, and discussion as well aslinking communities and teaching practitioners around the world.Besides, Google Sites offer free website templates that bearcharacteristic settings which are used to access and shareinformation alongside the incorporation with Google Calendar andGoogle Docs. Furthermore, Moodle was created as a platform where theteaching practitioners could design efficient online education sites,and it incorporates the double-fold elements of support center andtutor community. Again, Desire2Learn software was introduced to aidin the development, delivery, and control of courses online it is ablend of learner’s assessment data, mobile application, and toolsused to capture and broadcast live and on-demand presentations(Mtebe, 2015).
Also,Edu2.0 has components such as calendar, content delivery, blogs,videoconferencing, wiki, and discussion alongside the assessments onrubric generator, grade book, and built-in reports regarding onlineeducation (Schroeder, Minocha & Schneider, 2010). Then there isSchoology which has tools helpful in embedding media and managingdiscussions held online trainers apply its collaborative feature inmaterial sharing as well as the integration of public content. Italso harbors assessment tools which help in the generation of tests,provision of direct student feedback and tracking progress. Finally,Rcamps serves as intuitive software that serves in the management ofgrade books, instructional content, collaboration, and assessmentsit has an electronic portfolio and rubric-builder applications whichenhance timely reporting on student progress (Mtebe, 2015).
OnlineEducation Quality Assurance
Thequality of web-based education is a serious area of concern regardingthe schools accreditation relations, with a view that accreditationmust put in place performance measures which are reliable and valid,create an evidence of link between the trainee and the faculty,display proof of an efficient instructional techniques, and endorsemethodical efforts of selection and faculty training. Finally, thereshould be an assurance that the learners, staff, faculty, andadministrators get sufficient training on the use of resources thatis how important it is to set standards that would ensure the qualityof Internet-based training (Sims, Dobbs & Hand, 2010). That isnecessary because this form of learning separates students from theirteachers spatially affects the structure of schools, and utilizescomputer-based technology in teaching and communication. Over time,Salmon (2013) asserted that measures for quality of web-basededucation had been coined into seven benchmark areas of support ofcolleges, development of the courses, the process of teaching andlearning, structure of the course, support of the students, supportof the faculty, and the execution of assessment and evaluation.
Thefirst step of assuring quality regarding the higher educationlearning calls for an explicit formulation of organization vision,commitment, adopting effective leadership as well as creating acomprehensive and realistic plan and where possible, partnershipsshould be encouraged (Daniel, Kanwar & Uvalić-Trumbić, 2012).In any case, the policies related to online learning must reflect theoverall mission and vision of the school while leaders should clarifywhy internet-base learning was selected as the most appropriatelearning approach for the students. Where the internet-based learningis new or replacing the face-to-face teaching, institutions shouldearmark resources and work towards investing in innovation and highstandard education (Salmon, 2013) all the policies aimed at ensuringbetter education outcome must consider the issues above and onceformulated, schools intending to embrace online learning must comply.
Developingthe staff and faculty about the issues of Internet-based education isalso decisive in ensuring quality because the faculty is responsiblefor designing online curricular while the staff works towards theimplementation different institutions have unique ways of providingstaff development to ensure maximum output. Hence, any faculty thatintends to run an online training should adopt some professionaldevelopment and support practices such as the creating ofinstructional materials, marketing of online courses, and encouragingfeedback, support, and mentoring. Other areas for exploitationinclude learning how to use new technologies, outlining thestrategies for assessing the outcome of online learning, establishingmethodologies for interactive training, and ensuring that theassistance for facilitation of education is available readily(Harasim, 2013).
Besides,successful quality assurance is also a derivative of properly definedorganizational structure which must also acknowledge all the otherpolicies defining improved performance in online training (Anderson,2009). Reviews of the literature about Internet-based educationindicate that institutions with offices that can run audits, programaccreditation, and conduct departmental reviews in a transparentmanner are likely to succeed in web-based training. In other words,office quality is incisive and can extend to help in the evaluationof sensitive parameters such as pedagogical designs, calculation ofkey performances, and benchmark of research every office should,therefore, house a highly competent staff able to meet all the tasks.Additionally, the structure of the committee representing the facultyor institution or department determines the level of engagement inWeb-based education, buy-in, and quality tasks, delegations, anddecision-making powers must all be clear to the committee members. Ifproperly channeled, the outputs of quality assurance office andcommittees can greatly contribute t the online education throughimproved teaching, course design, and material production, and staffdevelopment geared towards high productivity (Salmon, 2013).
Furthermore,there is the need to allocate resources to support online education,and that must recognize the fact that web-based education ischaracterized by five cost drivers namely maintenance, design anddevelopment, overheads, planning, and delivery. With the notion thatimproved systems for online courses’ storage, delivery, and accessare decisive quality drivers, online schools must plan appropriately(by giving realistic cost estimates) while considering severalresource (needs) factors. Some of the issues evaluated are timeduration for course development/preparation, the number of studentsenrolled, the time estimate for teaching the course, class sizeversus available tutors, the pedagogy for use, and the salaries forteachers (Stephenson, 2011). Simply put, online learning schools mustendeavor to acknowledge and comprehend the underlying factors thatinfluence the development of sound internet-based training theyshould invest in a learning design that is computer-based, canmonitor student performance, and enhance discussion, collaboration,and resource sharing as well as online submission of assignments.
WhyMore Students Prefer Online Education
Thenumber of learner opting for online higher education degrees and oronline courses is on a steady rise, with more than 21 millionlearners enrolled at Title IV Learning institutions by the end of theyears 2012. Out of that registration, about 86% were undergraduatecandidates while 77% were degree and certificate seekers, with yetanother 26% of the then enrollment engaging in distance learning oran integrated campus and online education (Palloff & Pratt,2012). The increase in demand for Internet-based learning remainedthe same from 2012 through to 2015 hence, the importance toascertain why students have developed a predilection for the approachis inevitable.
First,Allen & Seaman (2016) argued that online education offer anopportunity for students to pursue their passions in writing,singing, arts, research, and technology experiences (e.g. filmmaking)as opposed to the traditional method of learning in which the focusof training is on a subject, and the teacher is the most active. Theprospect of participating in virtual field practicum throughsynchronous instructions, enjoying game-like modules throughsimulation i.e. gamification of courses, active project-basedlearning in which trainees are allowed to create products are theleading drivers that attract students to enroll in online education.
Secondly,the design of web-based learning permits students to concentrate ontheir work without having to tolerate the distractions offace-to-face schools where socialization and disruptions are commoningredients. With the current competitive market and technologicaladvancements, learners require a calm environment that favors skillacquisition readily, thus the tendency of trainees to selectinternet-based learning over the traditional one (Means et al.,2015). Furthermore, web-based learning enables students to work attheir preferred pace some choose to showcase competence ahead offellow online learners and get credit while others move at a slowerpace while requesting for additional support. In the traditionalsetting, students are treated as a group, and the implication is thatboth fast and slow learners are regarded equal thus resulting in thefailure of the latter group (Palloff & Pratt, 2010). On thatregard, more trainees are shifting to Internet-based education wheretheir learning pace is holistically considered, hence the guaranteeof excellence for both slow and fast learners.
Furthermore,Salmon (2013) asserted that the online atmosphere does not requirelearners to compete in order to share ideas and thoughts equity isapparent in this paradigm and students are not discriminated uponbased on their sitting position in a traditional classroom, gender,race, or popularity. The online field presents opportunities to allregarding discussion forums and commenting on posts, videos, andlearner’s work notwithstanding, it is the most ideal for studentsof the 21st century. Again, web-based education allows students towork with a schedule with a flexibility that permits them to meettheir needs as well as health issues. The traditional classrooms areknown to work ahead of learners who are out because of sickness or toattend to an unavoidable family matter, but these were long solvedwith the advent of internet technology for online learning (Song etal., 2014) learners are thus enrolling for the program in largenumbers in the United States.
Finally,Stephenson (2011) acknowledged that web-based education is structuredin such a way to allow for easy teacher-student and student-studentcommunication because of the many software in place for such forumsexchanging files, assignments, instructions, and feedback occursreadily with a click into the existing links and or posting views.However, getting the attention of a teacher in a face-to-face classis difficult because many classmates craved for the same and coupledwith high chances of prejudice prevailing, communication is a realchallenge. Regarding student to student interaction, the web-basedapproach, through some software, permits effortless connection anddiscussion on the relevant course topics (Oblinger, 2012).Conversely, such interactions may be common in the traditionaleducation method except that they harbor series of disruptive momentsby the classmates who have a lot more to discuss one-on-one that arenot related to the actual academic topics under scrutiny. Ideally,therefore, the education system in the United States will continue toexperience major shifts regarding students’ enrollment to onlineprograms the future is likely to feature more online learners thanthe normal physical classroom trainees.
EmployerPerception towards Online Degrees
Althoughthe initial studies such as those conducted by Chaney in 2001 showedthat most employers did not recruit based on whether one pursuedonline or traditional degrees, follow-up research by Thompson (2009)indicated that job recruiters prefer traditional degree holders. Inthat study, it was found out that as many as 97% of the employingfirms opted for candidates who pursued a degree course thetraditional way. Similarly, the market value of internet-based onlineeducation graduates is significantly lower than those of the studentswho undertaken their courses in the old paradigm (Thompson, 2009). Asystematic literature review by Columbaro & Monaghan (2010)validated Thompson’s findings by concluding that employers have anegative perception about online training which they view as lesssuited for developing a competent workforce. The question worthscrutiny would by why online trainees are perceived negatively andless likely to gain employment.
Thereare many reasons why employers prefer to hire candidates withtraditional degrees over those with internet-based degrees as hasbeen proved by pedagogical research data available regardingeducation paradigms. First, Columbaro & Monaghan (2010) observedthat online study approaches are viewed as poorly designed andunlikely to produce degree holders with rigor because most of thetime it is the learners who decide when and how to study. Besides,the lack of face-to-face associations in the method has agitated adebate on the ability of online learning graduates to interact in thejob market and create an opportunity for organizational growth.Furthermore, web-based education is associated with dishonesty,diploma mills, and the doubt about the commitment evidence oftrainees who are confined in geographical areas of their choice doingthe online studies (Columbaro & Monaghan, 2010). In other words,most employers perceive online degree holders as incompetent andwithout team building and time management skills and on that regard,they hire more candidates from traditional schools.
However,Thompson (2009) asserted that the small percentages of recruiters whohold positive attitudes towards online credentials and are ready toemploy them insist that the candidates must provide name recognitionproof for the institution that granted the degree. Furthermore, therelevant experience of the graduate is scrutinized alongside thelevel and type of accreditation and upon evidence of validity theyare hired and not subjected to prejudice.
TheCase of For-Profit and Non-Profit Online Schools
Alongsidethe rising demands for internet-based learning, various institutionshave been established to offset the need, and these include thenon-profit and for-profit online schools each of these entities hasunique approaches to online education. For-profit online schools haveover the years established (from 3% in the 1999 to 9% in 2009) in theUnited States and as private-sector institutions they are activeplayers in the expansion of online learning by offering loans tostudents and creating dose employer associations (Harasim, 2013).Conversely, non-profit schools are strictly engaged in the provisiononline education without any intentions to undertake profit-orientedoperations the primary revenue source for such institutions is thefunding by the State as well as aids from willing donors (Buckmaster,2009). Unlike for-profit institutions which are subject to taxationby the national administration, non-profits are free from such thelatter schools have more time to invest in training and havetherefore recorded better performance among the online learners.
Accordingto Deming, Goldin & Katz (2012), For-Profit online learninginstitutions are America’s fastest-growing postsecondary entitiesthat mostly enroll the disadvantage and minority learners as well asthose who have negative perceptions about the traditional schools.They obtain a sizeable proportion of their finances from the studenttrainees who get loans from the central government as aid and assuch, for-profit institutions interest policy-makers for two reasons:their involvement in internet-based teaching method and the valuethat they transfer to the enrolled trainees. Examples of suchinstitutions found in America are the University of Phoenix,Corinthian Colleges, and Ohio Business Colleges just to state a few.
For-ProfitSchools Financial Costs:for a long time now, for-profit schools have been criticized forovercharging students who they enroll compared to the low-qualityonline programs they offer. The average expense for tuition feeremains highest among for-profit learning organizations compared toother private and public non-profit in the United States. Forexample, an average tuition charge of $ 15, 130 was recorded amongthe for-profit colleges in the year 2013, indicating how expensivethe institutions were, given that the average for non-profit schoolsduring the same period totaled $ 11, 093 (Cellini, 2012). Althoughfor-profits earn more revenue, they reward staff less than thenon-profit education firms with an average salary for full-timefaculty estimated to be $ 54, 413. The faculty pay rates are not theonly parameters to be used to gauge the quality of a college as muchas it is evident that for-profit schools do not attract competenttutors with the lower salaries (Deming et al., 2012). Now that theseinstitutions charge higher tuition which is sparingly utilizedtowards recruiting qualified teachers, where do the schools spendthis revenue?
WhyFor-Profit Institutions are Expensive:in as much as operating higher education initiatives incorporate manyexpenses, the overspendings on advertising and lobbying (which do notbenefit learners directly) by for-profit schools costs a lot. Forinstance, the University of Phoenix spends as high as $ 400,000 on adaily basis the expenditure average for among for-profitinstitutions is 23% in marketing, advertising, and employment(Cellini, 2012). Simply put, for-profit schools invest more in tryingto persuade students to enroll for online studies and start cateringfor the tuition fee while less effort is geared towards qualityeducation of the registered pool of trainees.
For-ProfitEducation State:for-profit online schools enroll low-income learners, the people ofcolor, and military veterans and that has appeared ironical withrespect to the high tuition fee charges. Hence, about 19% oflow-income adults (18 to 35 years old) enrolled at for-profitinstitutions in 2012 while only 5% above-average income earnersregistered (Deming et al., 2012). Besides, the enrollment of theblacks, especially during the great (economic) recession catapultedto high levels that institutions such as Ashford and Phoenixgraduated many African-Americans in the period 2011/2012. Finally,because the military veterans access much of the federal aid, mostfor-profit schools work to attract them, and in the period 2012-2013,they achieved that goal and recorded the highest enrollment of thiscategory (Bailey et al., 2011).
Thehigher fees of for-profit schools end up frustrating students whofind their degrees are far much below their expectations in terms ofcredentials’ qualities as perceived in the market. Because amajority of these colleges have feeble reputations in the highereducation sector, trainees who attempt to transfer their attainedcredits to the nonprofit counterparts are often informed that it isimpossible (Fogle & Elliott, 2013). It is unfortunate thatfor-profit online colleges have become experts in making false claimsduring advertisement and marketing and once students enroll andgraduate through their systems, they are left to face thehumiliations of the world. In fact, most employers disregard thedegrees offered by these schools and as such, graduates are at higherrisks of joining the team of the unemployed in the United Sates aftersuccessfully pursuing a degree program. Consequently, Deming et al.(2012) observed that the high growth the sector registered in theearly 2000s have slowed down over the years, with the quadruplingtrend noted between 2000 and 2010 realizing a drop by 12% come2010/2012 era, with a slight revival in the period 2014/2015.
Benefitsof For-Profit Schools:despite the obvious scandals and high costs, students still enrollfor online education programs at one of the many for-profit schoolswhich have ventured in web-based training practices in the UnitedStates. Arguably, the extensive marketing plays a significant role asmuch as the students may also be finding something unique aboutfor-profit schools that compel them to register. Two specificstrategies that place for-profits in a better market position relateto the fact that they offer greater flexibility and meet demand(Bailey et al., 2011).
Concerningflexibility, for-profit schools have perfected the art of onlinelearning management systems to include the use of software programslike the Blackboard and Moodle, and that has allowed learners toattend to courses at their specified pace and from any web locationas long as they can access the apps (Deming et al., 2012). The factthat it is accessible and ideal for learners who cannot otherwisejoin the traditional colleges is perhaps the most valuable benefit offor-profits that attract more candidates over the years (Cellini,2012). That, coupled with the fact that for-profit schools expandlearning opportunities to many students who cannot afford or dislikethe traditional approach but yearn for better career options livenedby the technological experience of the internet, has aided thereputation of for-profit education firms.
Unlikethe business-oriented for-profit schools, non-profit online learninginstitutions’ priority is to enroll and train the students in a waythat the latter’s motives or interests are fully covered at the endof training. Some of the leading non-profits in the United Statesinclude Liberty University, Western Governors University, ExcelsiorCollege, Nova Southeastern University, and National University(Buckmaster, 2009). The following are facts about non-profit onlineschools which show how better off they are compared to for-profit interms of revenue management and quality academic outcomes.
Non-ProfitSchools Financial Costs:non-profit online education firms operate independently of theowners’ structures and with minimal focus on tuition fee butrather, how best students can be prepared for their future careerexploit. Hence, the average annual tuition charges by nonprofitentities $ 11,093 and to stress on their focus to producing competentgraduates, these institutions spend more in rewarding and orrecruiting the teaching personnel (Buckmaster, 2009). The mean salaryfor a full-time non-profit company stands at $ 96,129, a figure thathas aided in attracting experienced teachers as well as motivatingand retaining the existing ones the average spending on marketing isat 1% which is negligible if compared to the 23% rate at for-profitschools (Buckmaster, 2009). Evidently, non-profit institutions aremore affordable and more competitive with the public schools of theUnited States as much as it attracts many students who end up withquality credentials at gradation.
Non-ProfitEducation State and Benefits:the affordable fee and design of non-profit schools are such that themain aim is to ensure quality in online education and guaranteestudents better positions in the market. As such, these organizationshave been recording a gradual rise in the number of those they enrollover the years those trained by these institutions are perceivedpositively by the employers due to accreditation of the non-profits(Stephenson, 2011). Because its main focus is to produce quality,non-profit organizations utilize the four strategies of synchronousinstruction, asynchronous instruction, gamification, project-basedlearning to attain that mission.
Insynchronous instruction, Sejzi & Arisa (2013) stated that onlinestudents are called upon to participate in a virtual field practiceby using videoconferencing and other interactive features in theavailable software of LMS to receive real-time (synchronous)instruction. To start, an hour or so is spent with a session of mockcounseling by a hired actor as a realistic client learners alternatein leading the video session, and an hour later they discuss thestrategy that proved most effective for client engagement. Hence,students are able to create an environment of similar to that of aphysical field training exercise where the learners are in directtouch with the client the model is thus a major determinant of thequality witnessed for non-profit schools.
Secondly,gamification is used to exploit the ambitions of online students bydesigning game like courses which attract the attention and interestof learners to explore further for example, digital marketing onlinelearners are set to compete in building a website for non-profitinstitutions and the best webs are adopted (Mtebe, 2015). In essence,not-for-profit schools apply the concepts of gamification to makelearning practice more exciting to the extent that learners whoenroll with them enjoy the best chances of succeeding in the marketat graduation. Besides, project-based education in non-profit firmsallows the trainees to acquire and showcase academic concepts masterythrough the creation of say, a given product online. On that regard,students get credentials not on the basis courses and exams butrather, the number of projects completed online (Sejzi & Arisa,2013) the skills acquired through such practices are far reachingand beneficial to the students in their future occupations.
Asa summation, in addition to being affordable, non-profit onlineschools offer courses at an accelerated pace that allows everylearner to focus they ensure interaction through streaming videos,online community, and real-time deliberations. Moreover, the courseshave internet-based instructions, the submission of assignments ispossible online, and assessments are proctored via the technicalmeans such as the use of a webcam. In other words, non-profitcolleges boast of the quadruple-fold benefits of low cost,convenience, customization, and collaboration all of which contributeto the rising number of enrollments as well as graduates from thissector.
Futureof Online Learning and Improvement Strategies
Althoughonline education may be facing a considerable degree of friction atpresent because of quality issues, Downes (2010) concurred that ithas a bright future and a potential to grow parallel to the advancesin internet technology which will include greatly wireless/bandwidthconnections. Under these conditions, institutions are likely toventure more in the application of interactive simulations,multimedia, and gamification in online education. The United States’population is on the rise, and with the current overcrowding of thecommunity colleges, the industry is projected to plunge into a futureof full-time internet-based teaching to not only preserve space butalso tap into the latest technologies.
Regardingfor-profit schools, the future seems to be dark following the currentcriticism involving its high cost of operation against low-qualitycredentials that are disregarded by most employers. In addition, thelatest government regulations on for-profit colleges as a result oftheir exaggerated advertising sanction them against such acts iffollowed strictly, the institutions in this domain are projected tocontinue to enroll fewer candidates in the future (Kim & Bonk,2014). Besides, nonprofit colleges’ future is promising as itrelates to their rigorous training at low costs and very soon, theseorganizations will be the kingpins of education through internettechnology in the United States in the years ahead. In fact, most ofthe schools in this docket have sidelined their future focus areaswhich include: to attract and retain competent staff, to strengthenthe current courses and introduce brand degree programs, to stabilizerelationships with the community colleges in the country, to exploitglobal partnerships, to serve the local community, to provide qualitystudent resources and services, and to offer personal development andcareer coaching (Downes, 2010).
Inoverall, brightening the future of online education will depend onthe number of interventions or strategies adopted by the key players,i.e. for-profit and non-profit web-based schools the interventionsare binding to all and are discussed as follow. First, theinstitutions must line their monetary bases with the demands of thesystem in meeting quality outcomes by investing in the latest LMStechnologies, availing the required resources, rewarding workersfairly, and training/developing employees (Kim & Bonk, 2014).Secondly, the pedagogical designs must be in a way that it does notonly favor the instructor and or student but also identify and worktowards meeting the expectations of the employers through qualitycredentials. Furthermore, the internet-based teaching practitionersmust be technically competent in the use of the web to shareinstructions and lead the learners in all aspects and procedures ofteaching and learning (Downes, 2010). Also, there should be animprovement in the technologies applied for online studies and themarketing approach by every institution should not only capture theirvision and mission but rather, how the indicated goals shall beachieved. Additionally, the online schools should redefine theiroperations to include a blend of the traditional teaching ideas andthe web-based one to come up with the most appropriate pedagogy withthe most qualified human resources at graduation (Kim & Bonk,2014).
Onlineeducation has gained popularity because of its strengths in providingmore supple access to instruction and content from any place and atany time the trainees are not restricted to use a given locationlike in the traditional learning system. The approach focuses onincreasing learning experience availability to students who are notin a position attend the original face-to-face trainings as much asit assembles and disseminate instructional content cost-effectively.Besides, online education allows education practitioners to attend tomore learners while maintaining quality learning outcome reminiscentof the ancient face-to-face method the popularity of the system hasthus risen over the years in the United States and the world as awhole.
Becausethe success of web-based education depends on how well the partiesinvolved present digital contents, most online schools have opted fora learning management system (LMS). LMS is an online platform whichpermits the sharing of tools, materials, activities, and resourceswith the trainees without necessarily having to engage in aface-to-face interaction it enables the teaching practitioners toprovide customized instructions accessible to the learners anywhere,anytime, and without any geographical restriction. Hence, many LMSfeatures/tools have been designed for application by online educatorsto improve education quality, and these include the Blackboard,Edmodo, Google Sites, Moodle, Desire2Learn, Edu2.0, Schoology, andRcamps just to mention some. Regarding quality assurance, onlinelearning schools must endeavor to acknowledge and comprehend theunderlying factors that influence the development of soundinternet-based training they should invest in a learning design thatis computer-based, can monitor student performance, and enhancediscussion, collaboration, and resource sharing as well as onlinesubmission of assignments. All in all, students have shown growingpreference for online education because it is flexible and allow themto progress at their own speed, anytime, and anywhere withoutnecessarily having to walk into a classroom. Although employers viewonline education as less superior regarding the degrees offered, thefuture of this approach is bright with the leading institutionsworking to improve pedagogy to reflect the teaching setting which isentirely technology-based.
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