Dr. John Thelin is a professor at the University of Kentucky. He recently wrote the book, A History of American Higher Education (John Hopkins University Press, 2011). Recently I came across one of his essays entitled, Professors Shouldnt Be Afraid of Online Learning. Having earned an MBA from the University of Phoenix completely online, I found his thoughts very interesting.
He speaks from the milieu of the long-established ivory tower, to his colleagues and for his colleagues. And he speaks to us. Here is just one fertile paragraph from his essay that so well captures the efficacy and significance of the world of online education today, and how important it is for anyone involved in higher education to become fluid in this new platform:
I do wonder why so many colleagues fear or avoid online education. Its established, expanding, and improvingand is an undeniable part of college teaching and learning. At a flagship state university, online education is less of a threat to job security than is the administrative penchant to hire adjuncts at a relatively low salary to teach traditional courses. Learning how to teach online probably would be one of the best steps a professor could take to assure viability in the 21st century. The most dysfunctional response by a professor today would be to dismiss or ignore both the technology and the social consequences online learning has.
Online education is here to stay and will only enlarge its footprint. The smart professors, schools, and students are warmly embracing it. Those who want to be passed by are doing the opposite. Thelin also comments on how impressed he became with the quality of online education as he conducted his research:
Most surprising to me was to learn how much attention and seriousness the University of Phoenix pours into the creation and evaluation of its online courses. Its faculty and staffs attention to detail in working with instructors, designing courses, monitoring student participation and learning have been a source of innovation that often was underappreciated by traditional colleges.
Earning my MBA online was one of the richest and most powerful learning experiences I ever encountered. Not only did I engage the challenging MBA curriculum, but I simultaneously fine-tuned my virtual-team management and online communication skills.
Online education is not the perfect solution for every person. Every situation is different. Nevertheless, in our increasingly technological and virtual business world, the online education experience will continue to pay rich dividends for everyone.
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