Online college is coming, to our benefit

  • Article by: DAVID METZEN and DAVID OLSON
  • Updated: June 24, 2010 - 6:42 PM

It's great for nontraditional students -- and it needn't exclude campus life.

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Jim2005BeamJun. 24, 10 8:07 PM

From my experience over the past 4 years, very well stated and very accurate. As a "non-traditional" student I couldn't have finished my new degree without online courses.

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mariezzJun. 24, 10 9:16 PM

quickly look up the answers to the online exam questions. Even though there was a limited amount of time for the exams, someone who can use the index of a book quickly could pass the exams (with an A!) without doing any work. Obviously, someone who truly wants to learn would want to study. But at least 1/3 of college students (depends on the college - more at less academically rigorous institutions; fewer at the highly selective institutions) really don't want to study. And in fact, many believe that just studying 3 or so hours a week for a 4 credit class is adequate. How do I know this? I teach at the college level. Students get to higher ed. with no idea of what studying is, or how to study, or how to discipline themselves to study enough. Much of what I find myself doing with students is helping them understand how to study effectively, and to understand what constitutes adequate studying. Online classes can benefit some students, but it's not ideal. It may be the only option for some, and the truly dedicated may benefit from the classes, but not as much as a face-to-face class, where classroom discussions lead students to think deeply & critically about issues. Far too many students see higher ed. as simply the time they spend "buying" a diploma - they don't think of it as "earning" a diploma.

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lkjhJun. 25, 10 3:38 AM

The goal is to learn how to learn. Most graduated high school students really don't know how to do that, and online courses for them would be a waste, the degree a fraud. I think the author is correct that older, more mature students are more likely to make online courses work, simply because they are more likely to know how to learn.

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ORIOLE75Jun. 25, 10 5:18 AM

As long as the public insists on cutting education funding, and the politicians would rather build football stadiums than classrooms, then the Online model will continue to grow.

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sausageJun. 25, 10 7:14 AM

If you want your child to have his degree, just decide when they are born what degree you want them to have and then issue it. Then just pay as the child ages. By the time the child reaches 18, he/she will have the PhD and cut the hassle of classes. Then everyday will be spring break for the little darlings. Books and studies are boring and interfere with social networking. The e-gymnasium (if you understand the word "gymnasium") is the thing.

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theokoJun. 25, 10 9:22 AM

It's almost as if this article didn't read the editorial it responded to. The central point of editorial is that Pawlenty's $199 per class fee is a long way off...where is the rebuttal to this central point? The editorial repeatedly and clearly acknowledges and lauds the growth of online courses, though you would not know it from this response article. The final line of the editorial is "But as a quick, cost-saving strategy for government, it's out of focus"- that sums up the thrust of their argument: where is the rebuttal in this piece? This is merely an attempt to distract from legitimate and solid critiques of the governor's paper-thin ideas on education from his political allies.

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drpanglossJun. 25, 1010:19 AM

or something like this was said by the Governor. This pitiful attempt by Pawlenty appointees to cover his (Pawlenty's) ass is a masterpiece of spin-control. Pawleny's original song and dance about iCollege was definitely NOT aimed at non-traditional students or as a supplement to the education of young people. It was aimed right at the usual attendees of college. This is the reason why he tried to fly the baloon on tv to a young audience. As a former Chair of the Board of Regents, Dr. Metzen should not tolerate this sneak attack by the governor on higher education.

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wbgleasonJun. 25, 1010:51 AM

The very same Dr. Metzen who is co-author of this op-ed was the chairman of the Board of Regents at the U of M when the whole football stadium thing went down. He was the unofficial regent for athletics during his tenure as a Regent. His involvement in education and the poor graduation rate at the U - together with President Bruininks - is worthy of note: http://bit.ly/9OWhtK They both seem to have recently found the religion of increased graduation rates. Strange, since they've both been involved with the U for a long time, even, I believe back to the days when the grad rate was 25% [sic]. But I guess a man's gotta find a way to make a livin'.

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MsondraJun. 25, 1011:26 AM

I'm someone who went to a traditional 4 year liberal arts college 30 years ago and who went back for a masters at a traditional liberal arts college a few years ago. The traditional college is evolving with classes going online and with class work going on line in the form of sharing and commenting on work, turning in materials and having open discussions. I loved the changes the information world brings. Also, the student body is changing. There are less traditional day students in the 18 to 24 demographic than their are adult learners. Online or partially online doesn't mean it's an easy class. There are still reading and writing requirements and the requirement to share your opinion. In fact, it allows room for the less dominate students to get a word in edgewise. We've all been in classrooms with fellow students who cannot stop talking on every subject. However, when taking part in an only discussion, there is more time for thoughtful participation without interruption. There is quicker turn around on papers and grades. Some types of learning will be better in a classroom setting and some work well in a completely online setting. It will benefit MnSCU and Minnesota to be a leader in online learning and the ability for students to have access to classes at all MnSCU institutions.

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reasonable2Jun. 25, 1011:50 AM

If online can do THAT, it will be a very useful tool to educators.

I think it is just ONE tool. What is the quality of the degree from the U of Phoenix? They've been at it for awhile. All I have read about that online college is about the student loans they have issued that have fallen into default.

Whatever changes we make to higher ed, we have to stop this practice of allowing students to rack up $30, $50, $100 thousand dollars in debt. It cuts their options severely when they begin their working lives so encumbered.

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