Those of us who are familiar with online education know that it’s an extremely effective way to learn. Study after study confirms this, including one conducted by the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) which released a report (“Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies”) that found that students who took all or part of their instruction online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through face-to-face education.
Employers and the public at large are increasingly coming to the same conclusion. In the most recent survey (2010) conducted by the Distance Education and Accrediting Commission (DEAC, CalSouthern’s current accrediting body and recognized since 1959 by the USDOE as a reputable and reliable accrediting body), recent online program graduates’ work supervisors were polled on a number of critical issues. The results were overwhelmingly positive.
More than 85 percent of the supervisors noted that the graduate performed better on the job as a result of the online degree program. Ninety-two percent said they were favorably inclined toward hiring or supervising other employees who earned degrees via distance education, while 94 percent stated that they would encourage others—subordinates or colleagues—to enroll in accredited distance-education degree programs in order to enhance their competence on the job. Another 93 percent of the supervisors found that the DEAC-school graduates compared favorably in terms of knowledge, skills and attitude with other individuals they know or have supervised who earned comparable degrees from an “on-the-ground” college.
Now, an even more recent and comprehensive survey indicates that public perception is turning in favor of online education, as well—despite the negative media attention generated in recent years by a few bad actors in the online sector. On November 27, 2012, Northeastern University released the results of its “Innovation in Higher Education Survey.” “Millennials” (adults aged 18 to 30) surveyed remain quite optimistic about the value of a college degree, with 89 percent agreeing that a college education “paves the way to move up the social and professional ladder” and 90 percent affirming that higher education provides important intellectual benefits, like improved critical thinking and new ways to analyze information.” Two-thirds believe that achieving a college degree is more important today than for the previous generation.
Interestingly, almost the same percentage (61 percent) affirms that online universities offer a similar quality of education as traditional colleges and universities (only nine percent strongly disagree). Even more (68 percent) believe that online degrees will be “just as recognized and accepted among employers as a traditional degree in the near future (five to seven years).” Seventy-two percent agree that online education is “more practical and feasible than a traditional college degree.”
That’s a lot of research, facts and figures, but one clear conclusion: the more you look at online higher education, the more you understand and appreciate its efficacy and practicality-. And with more and more graduates of quality online programs achieving success in the workforce and a millennial generation increasingly ready to embrace distance education, the future of distance education appears bright indeed.