Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Online Learning Pros and Cons

The Internet has made the online learning experience much like that in a real classroom. In the fall of 2006, 3.5 million students were taking online courses, up 10% from the previous year, according to Sloan Consortium, a nonprofit group that studies trends in online learning. Today, more than two-thirds of all higher education institutions offer online classes.

Professors and students have more flexibility learning online; however, there are disadvantages. Online professors are working just as hard as full time professors who meet with their students in person, but are being paid less. Many professors who do online learning are part timers, typically getting paid $1,000 to $1,500 to teach a course while a full time professor gets about ten times more than that, according to Professor Ruth at George Mason University. Spencer Anderson, an adjunct professor at North Lake College, says he was supposed to teach two traditional courses with about 12 students each but many students chose to take the online course, so he ended up teaching 40 students online and was only paid for one course, which has effected his income.

The biggest growth in online teaching has been at two-year colleges, and public colleges are at the forefront, according to the Sloan Consortium. The University of Phoenix has about 12,500 online faculty members. Online teaching gives teachers the opportunity of having a flexible schedule and supplemental income, while maximizing profits for the universities by decreasing expenses on salaries.

Building a stronger business is about scaling up, and there's a lot to be learned from the virtual education model.

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