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The US educational system has been largely criticized recently. Scholars, officials as well as students note that the quality of services provided is steadily deteriorating. Moreover, the recent recession of economy has forced many higher educational establishments to cut budgets, which has a variety of negative effects.
Thus, lots of permanent and temporary residents of California are unable to obtain higher education due to the lack of space at higher educational establishments (Johnson, 2013). Online education is a good opportunity for those who cannot afford attending classes (predominantly due to the lack of time). Nonetheless, some claim that online education is less effective and still needs considerable funding.
Admittedly, online education has its supporters and opponents as any other educational option. Nonetheless, the advantages of online education are evident and further development of technology suggests that this educational option will be improved and will soon become a solution to many problems the US educational system is facing.
The Increase in Demand
It is necessary to note that online education has become a topic of a lasting debate largely due to the increase in demand. Remarkably, the importance of higher education has been acknowledged and loads of young people are eager to obtain it to get better job opportunities.
At present, employers’ requirements are quite high and labor market is really competitive (Sherk, 2013). Admittedly, being competitive is vital at the period of economy’s recession.
The demand is growing and lots of students remain shut out. A Democrat from Sacramento, Senator Steinberg, states that “the state’s 112 community colleges each had an average of 7,000 enrolled students who were on waiting lists” (Lewin, 2013, p. A15). The Senator stresses that this is inappropriate as too many eager students have no access to higher education, and they are deprived of a variety of job opportunities.
Furthermore, 16% of Californian students graduate from higher educational establishments within a four-year period (Lewin, 2013). This trend occurs (in part) due to certain difficulty in getting the course students need. It is a common practice for students to remain at college for a larger period to get all the courses students deem necessary for their future jobs.
It is also important to add that lots of adults (employed, unemployed, housewives, etc.) seek for college courses to become more competitive. Belmond (2013) notes that many people benefit from obtaining higher education and regard it as a very important milestone in their lives.
Angela Rockwood, a mother of seven children, who completed most of her degree more than fifteen years ago says, “It’s a wonderful opportunity for me as my children are growing older and I contemplate what else I would like to do with my life” (Belmond, 2013). Working people also consider possibility to access college courses.
Advantages of Online Education
Online education addresses the issues associated with the lack of accessibility of higher education. Notably, California is the first state to introduce specific legislation that will require Californian higher educational establishments “to give credit for faculty-approved online courses taken by students unable to register for oversubscribed classes on campus” (Lewin, 2013, p. A15).
Many more students will be able to access higher education.
Noteworthy, students will not be tied to a particular geographic position anymore as they will be able to get the necessary course from a variety of colleges and universities. More importantly, students will be able to get the necessary courses within four years (Murphy, 2013).
Students will not have to wait for another year to get the course that will be necessary for them (the course which is not available at their college or university) as they will be able to access it at another university or college.
Needless to say, that online education is one of the best options for such categories as employed people, disabled people, housewives, etc. These people are often unable to attend face-to-face courses and are deprived of numerous opportunities (Belmond, 2013). Online course are often associated with more flexible hours.
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It is also necessary to point out that people are now accustomed to the idea of online education. According to a recent poll conducted by USC Dornsife and Los Angeles Times, 59% of respondents agree that online education will make the US higher education more accessible, i.e. more effective (Gordon, 2013).
Another poll shows that people over the age of 50 support the idea in spite of some people’s concerns that this category will reject the option due to fear of technology.(Gordon, 2013). Clearly, online education is becoming a popular trend.
Downsides of Online Education
Nevertheless, opponents of online education argue that the increase in such courses will deteriorate the US higher education. In the first place, opponents of this option claim that online education is likely to be associated with lower quality of education (Belmond, 2013). Some students think that online course are less challenging and do not work hard enough.
It is necessary to note that this has already caused some problems as the graduation rates in online courses are not very high. Some also associate online education with cheating (Gordon, 2013). They claim that online education offers much more opportunities for cheating due to technological imperfections.
However, this issue can easily be addressed through certain educational program. People should be aware of the peculiarities of online education and they should start regarding it as a similar option which also needs considerable amount of effort on behalf of the student.
Belmond (2013) notes that lots of people understand the necessity to obtain a particular course and they are committed to complete it successfully. As far as cheating is concerned, technology is being developed and the issues concerning cheating will be addressed as well. Therefore, online education is effective when a student has certain goals and is ready to achieve them.
Apart from fears of quality deterioration, opponents of online education argue that this is quite a costly educational option. For instance, Murphy (2013) notes that the University of California invests $10 million into development of several online courses.
Scholars claim that this is too much for an option which is associated with certain downsides. They add that these funds could be allocated more reasonable, e.g. more college spaces could be developed.
Admittedly, the funding is significant. However, any improvement needs investment and the US educational system requires significant changes. Besides, the sum is not that significant if to take into account the number of students which will be able to access higher education. Such incentives will have a variety of benefits in the long run as more well-educated young people will enter the US labor market.
Finally, there are also concerns that Californian students will be still shut out as international students as well as students from other states will access the online courses. Gordon (2013) notes that online education opponents state that colleges and universities may tend to enroll non-Californian students as these students pay more tuition fees.
Non-Californian residents comprised about 20% of students last year in Californian higher educational establishments. Some express concerns that the rate of non-Californian online students will increase.
However, this issue can be addressed with the help of certain regulations. If non-Californian residents pose a threat to the state’ residents, regulations will be imposed. Besides, Californian students may also find courses available in other states. Mobility is always beneficial for the overall development. Clearly, this issue needs thoughtful consideration and additional research should be implemented.
To sum up, it is possible to note that online education has become a topic of a heated debate due to increase in demand. At present, people understand the importance of higher education, which is a good trend for the development of the US society. At the same time, lots of people are still hostile to the idea of online education as it is feared that it can lead to education quality deterioration.
The development of online courses is also quite costly and financial constraints universities and colleges have can lead to certain unfairness in enrollment. Nonetheless, the fears mentioned above are rather groundless as some issues associated with online education are easily addressed.
Clearly, online education offers more opportunities for people who are eager to become competitive at the US labor market. Online education will make the US education more affordable and accessible.
Belmond, S. (2013). Online courses more effective for disciplined students. Simi Valley Acorn. Web.
Gordon, L. (2013). Survey shows growing support for online education in California. Los Angeles Times. Web.
Johnson, K. (2013). California State University expands online offerings. Sacramento Business Journal. Web.
Lewin, T. (2013). California bill seeks campus credit for online study. The New York Times, p. A15.
Murphy, K. (2013). California State University unveils ‘radical’ plan for online courses. Times-Herald. Web.
Sherk, J. (2013). Returning the unemployed to work: Adding online education to unemployment insurance. The Heritage Foundation, 9, 1-8.