Why Are So Many Students Still Failing Online?
May 24, 2011
Commentary by Stephen Downes

OK, if we're going to have a conversation about dirty little secrets, let's have it. Rob Jenkins writes in the ever-reliable Chronicle of Higher Education that the dirty little secret of online learning is that so many people fail. "Isn't it time that we had an honest national conversation about online learning?" he asks. "With countless studies showing success rates in online courses of only 50 per cent-as opposed to 70-to-75 percent for comparable face-to-face classes- isn't it time we asked ourselves some serious questions?" Well, fair enough. But here's the flip side, as Will Richardson observes: "Of the 2 million graduates in the class of 2011, 85 percent will return home because they can't secure jobs that might give them more choices and more control over their lives." Sure, it's harder to study online. It's harder to succeed. And you usually have other stuff happening too, like your family or your job. But while the rarefied university atmosphere may make it easier to succeed academically, it may be hurting you elsewhere. Total: 518
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Re: Why Are So Many Students Still Failing Online?

Plus note the assumption that its all students fault if they are not successful online- what if the courses are crappy? [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Why Are So Many Students Still Failing Online?

Thanks for pointing out this article... my response is as follows...

Some very valid points and a conversation worth having, however/and...
- institutions of higher learning continuously struggle to align student best interest with institutional best interests and they don't always coincide and more often than not the institution wins out (e.g., student loan levels that aren't informed by job and salary realities, college athletics, etc...). The mis-application of online courses solely as a carrot of the admissions office without the correspondingly appropriate student counseling and course quality will certainly lead to failure rates as you suggest.
- many of today's online courses are poor placeholders for best practices in technology-enabled teaching and learning... perhaps the conversation should be around a) how to assess the quality of online educational programs and b) how to collaboratively arrive at best in class online courses for common subjects that multiple institutions can utilize, thereby avoiding x numbers of mediocre implementations and the associated student suffering and undesirable outcomes.
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Re: Why Are So Many Students Still Failing Online?

I'm disappointed you agree it's harder to study online. It's not! I don't understand how you, of all people Stephen, could come to that conclusion. Many people have not figured out how to learn online and may have difficulty transferring their skills from a classroom to online. But that doesn't make it harder. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Why Are So Many Students Still Failing Online?

I agree with Grant. It is not harder to study online its is simply different from what we are accustomed to as adults. With the introduction of so many new technologies being used in the classroom today including web based learning Im sure that the next generation will have better results because it is the way they have been trained to learn. I personally sat in a classroom with no computer use at all so it is a change to not have a teacher looking at me from the front of the classroom but I welcome change its how society continues to grow and thrive. [Comment] [Permalink]

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