Quality of Learning Online
Online education is a proven model for learning, with a lengthy track record. It enables accredited higher learning for individuals living with physical disabilities, busy working class people, soldiers and those living abroad, and stay at home parents to mention a few. There is fundamentally little difference between physically sitting in an auditorium listening to lectures versus watching a webcast video of the professor.
The recognition of the quality of online degrees compared to on-campus degrees varies. While most major online colleges are regionally accredited, the public perception of their quality is in dispute. Some experts argue that degrees in certain fields are more accepted online than in others, while some programs are less suited for online-only schools.
A survey by the Distance Education and Training Council found that 100 percent of employers who responded felt that distance education program graduates performed better on the job as a result of their degree (as compared to their previous performance). Additionally, employers felt that an employee receiving a distance education degree compared favorably, in terms of knowledge learned, to someone with a resident degree. On the other hand, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported in January 2007 on a Vault Inc. survey that found 55 percent of employers preferred traditional degrees over online ones. 41%, however, said they would give “equal consideration to both types of degrees
The Sloan Consortium, an organization funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to maintain and improve the quality of distance education, publishes regular reports on the state of distance education in the U.S. In its 2006 report “Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006,” it stated that “in 2003, 57 percent of academic leaders rated the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face. That number is now 62 percent, a small but noteworthy increase
In some instances, an online degree may be no different than a degree earned in a campus-based program. The instruction is often exactly the same, and the online degree contains no special designation. An example of this is the degree offered to Columbia University students who earn a degree through the Columbia Video Network (CVN) versus the campus-based program.