Competition grows in online learning

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Colleges and universities are expanding the number of online courses that they offer. Although that growth is beneficial, students and parents should be careful not to confuse the quantity of the courses with their quality.

Ron Legon, who is a senior adviser for knowledge initiatives at Quality Matters, which joined Eduventures in a May 2017 study of online higher education, tells Consumers Digest that six facets of a school’s online program are important for you to scrutinize: your access to instructors, so you can pose questions and get help; whether a course requires you to take proctored tests on campus; the percentage of online students who earn a degree; the percentage of online students who gain employment in their field; the average student debt after he/she completes online courses; and whether an online “student life” is facilitated, so students can connect with others to get assistance with coursework.

Such information speaks to whether “the program is well-designed and encourages students all the way through” the process, Legon says. 

Not all schools keep track of that data, but many are realizing the importance of doing so.