PIDP 3240 Journal One: Is Online Learning the future for Higher Education?

“Technology has created new competitors, new expectations, and a global market for higher education” (Bowen, p. 10)

The simple fact of the matter is that technology is changing the delivery, availability and expectations of education.

At the elementary and high school levels, technology is being integrated in to classrooms where many children have been exposed to a variety advanced technology and “glowing screens” since birth. Further, youth have the world at their fingertips through these electronic mediums; virtually any question they have can be answered in a heartbeat through search engines such as google and wikipedia.

“The internet, like the book before it, is making a wealth of knowledge available to the people who could previously not afford the privilege of higher education” (Bowen, p. 4).

The reality is that many post-secondary students cannot afford the tuition and opportunity costs of the traditional four-year university program model. In a declining economy, many students must work while they obtain post-secondary credentials; further, they are very concerned about the cost of tuition (debt) and the job prospects they will have following graduation.

In short, students want the most “bang for their buck” and post-secondary institutions, from ivy league to community colleges, must figure out how to offer programs that meet the growing expectations and needs of today’s adult learners.

My initial reaction to reading the first three chapters of Jose Bowen’s “Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology out of your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning” was excitement. I could hardly wait to get pen to paper to reflect on my feelings about the information being conveyed.

In particular, Bowen cites a 2011 study by Allen and Seaman that showed a 10% growth in online learning versus a 0.6% growth in overall education.

For me, this validates my personal belief and value in the future of online learning – both as an instructor and as a student. 

It gives me hope to think that in the near future, education obtained through a hybrid model will be given the same respect as education obtained through a traditional model. I personally feel that education obtained through models other than the traditional “brick and mortar” university model have been looked down upon, or even viewed as a “short cut” to obtaining higher education.

The 2015 Horizon Report states that “Over the past several years, perceptions of online learning have been shifting in its favour as more learners and educators see it as a viable alternative to some forms of face-to-face learning. Drawing from best practices in online and face-to-face methods, blended learning is on the rise at universities and colleges.”

It gives me hope to see a change in thinking and to see that many organizations, including governments, learning institutions, health care providers, military, and large corporations, are grasping on to the many benefits of online learning, and implementing and promoting such training programs and learning opportunities.

It is safe to say that we have reached “a tipping point” in our thoughts and feelings towards online learning, and the future is brighter than the glow of a mobile phone in a dark movie theatre.

Bowen states that there will always be ivy league, but the affordable community college model of “results-oriented, flexible, convenient, jobs-focused training” is just as important and students are willing to pay for it, with demand continuing to rise.

Barack Obama himself even said in January that “folks can make a lot more” by learning a trade “than they might with an art history degree” (The Economist, 2014). This angered one history teacher who forced him to apologize, but it is true – students want a relevant education that will lead to good job prospects.

As an instructor at British Columbia Institute of Technology, this validates my choice to pursue a career as an instructor in the college setting. Further, my choice to obtain further training and knowledge on delivering my courses online, supports the ideology that students want and need the hybrid options for education and that this field is growing.

This is great news for job security, stability and potential. 

“As is the case with classroom instruction, the quality of online learning is uneven but at its best, interactive technology provides not only content, but also practice and individualized feedback that can be difficult to administer in a typical classroom environment” (Bowen, p. 3).

The modern student needs more convenience and more options – and I’m glad my current employer embraces this notion. Parents and students alike understand the benefits (financial and otherwise) of taking first and second-year courses at a community college, and then transferring these credits towards a degree from a larger university. The credentials are the same, but the cost has been lowered. 

The cost gaps are widening for classroom teaching where profitability for the learning institutions are low; whereas, the online learning model offers great potential for profit.

Bowen presented and supported his case for the importance, growth and future of online and hybrid learning models with examples and facts that are hard to argue with. While I was innately convinced that I was on the right path with my career and education, I am now even more confident in my choice. 

It is important for my own personal growth to continue to learn new skills for delivering excellent, relevant content with activities that give students the opportunity to practice their skills and interact with their peers, particularly in the online environment.

This will benefit me personally as students will be more satisfied with their educational experience – leading to positive feedback and instructional performance reviews – and possibly increased job opportunities.

Making efforts towards improving and enhancing learning in the on-line courses I instruct will also positively reflect on my employer, BCIT, by demonstrating progressive and effective teaching practices. In an economic environment where competition is at an all-time high for colleges and universities – and student expectations are even higher – student satisfaction is one of the keys to future success for educational organizations.

Lastly, improving and adding value to the courses I teach, by incorporating technology and providing a positive hybrid learning experience (relevant to the needs of students) will benefit the greater good of the reputation of the media-enhanced educational model movement overall.

Bowen, Jose. Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, a Wiley Imprint, 2012.

“Is College worth It?” The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 5 Apr. 2014. Web. 30 July 2015.

“NMC Horizon Report 2015 Higher Education Edition.” The New Media Consortium. 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 29 Jul. 2015


About robincookbondy

My name is Robin Cook Bondy and I live in Ladner, BC with my husband and three sons. I am a communications and public relations professional pursuing further education in the area of adult learning.
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