Why is online learning important?

I do not feel the need to pit online learning against “bricks and mortar” learning. And for us at EA, it does need to be an either/or situation. It is my hope that all of our courses are academically rigorous, interesting, and inspiring-no matter the format. It does seem to me the field of online learning is becoming increasingly relevant and that we have a responsibility to gain some experience.

Consider these three statistics from the Sloan Consortium study.

  • Over 7.1 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2012 term, an increase of 411,000 students over the previous year.
  • Thirty-three percent of higher education students now take at least one course online.
  • Ninety percent of academic leaders believe that it is likely or very likely that a majority of all higher education students will be taking at least one online course in five year’s time.

If our students have not already experienced online learning, it seems obvious they will soon. As a part of our college preparatory mentality, we need to be helping students develop the skills needed to succeed and thrive in this learning environment. Taking an online course is not easy. It takes persistence and diligence. I like the idea that EA will be there to help challenge and nurture our students side by side, as they enter this new world.

Our involvement with GOA also reflects our belief in diversity and our belief in the value of a global education. I cannot imagine how exciting the conversations are in the course, “9/11 in a Global Context.” This course looks interesting even if it was just filled with students from the Main Line, but imagine taking this class with kids from Jordan, China, and Indonesia. Here is the course description:

September 11, 2001 was a tragic day that changed the world in profound ways. In this course students will explore the causes of 9/11, the events of the day itself, and its aftermath locally, nationally, and around the world. In place of a standard chronological framework, students instead will view these events through a series of separate lenses. Each lens will represent a different way to view the attacks and will allow students to understand 9/11 as an event with complex and interrelated causes and outcomes. Using a variety of technologies and activities, students will work individually and with peers to evaluate each lens. They will then explore the post-9/11 world and conclude the course by planning their own 9/11 memorial.

We are simply not going to abandon that which makes us strong. You will always see the power of a first class liberal arts education at Episcopal. We will always be a school that fosters meaningful relationships and critical thinking with inspiring teachers. Our world continues to change quickly, and we want our students to be prepared to lead.

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