Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Conflicted: Faculty and Online Education

Steve Kolowich, writing in the Inside Higher Ed website, states that "Faculty members are far less excited by, and more fearful of, the recent growth of online education than are academic technology administrators". His article, Conflicted: Faculty and Online Education, 2012, which is based on a report by the Babson Survey Research Group (available in full here), reports from the survey that 58% of us faculty are "filled more with fear than with excitement" about on-line education (the corresponding figure for admins is 80%).
Image Source: InsideHigherEd.com.

This in itself is not a surprising figure as I'm sure that many Faculty are fearful about their jobs as more-and-more educational material becomes available on-line. The survey also finds that the majority (66%) of Faculty consider that Learning Outcomes in on-line courses are "inferior" compared to traditional courses. I'm not sure I agree with this as I am firmly convinced that it is possible for a learner to achieve a learning outcome regardless of medium of delivery.

Image Source: InsideHigherEd.com.
A more surprising aspect of the study was that despite the above, the majority of Faculty are still recommending that students take on-line courses. I myself have introduced and recommended the Kkan Academy videos as a learning aid to students in a Statistics class. The report asks the question: "Why are nearly half of professors who believe that online learning outcomes are inferior to that for face-to-face instruction still recommending them for their students?". While this varies (53% - 74%) between different disciplines, it is still an interesting paradox.

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