Online Teaching and Learning in Higher
The Survey Says…
nstitutions of higher education have increasingly embraced online education, and the number of students enrolled in distance programs is rapidly rising in colleges and universities throughout the United States. In response to these changes in enrollment demands, many states, institutions, and organizations have been working on strategic plans to implement online education. At the same time, misconceptions and myths related to the difficulty of teaching and learning online, technologies available to support online instruction, the support and compensation needed for high-quality instructors, and the needs of online students create challenges for such vision statements and planning documents.
In part, this confusion swells as higher education explores dozens of e-learning technologies (for example, electronic books, simulations, text messaging, podcasting, wikis, blogs), with new
E D U C A U S E Q U A R T E R LY •
Number 4 2006
ones seeming to emerge each week. Such technologies confront instructors and administrators at a time of continued budget retrenchments and rethinking.
Adding to this dilemma, bored students are dropping out of online classes while pleading for richer and more engaging online learning experiences.1 Given the demand for online learning, the plethora of online technologies to incorporate into teaching, the budgetary problems, and the opportunities for innovation, we argue that online learning environments are facing a “perfect e-storm,” linking pedagogy, technology, and learner needs.2
Considering the extensive turbulence created by the perfect storm surrounding e-learning, it is not surprising that opinions are mixed about the benefits of online teaching and learning in higher education. As illustrated in numerous issues of the Chronicle of Higher Education during the past decade, excitement and
A survey substantiates some ideas about online learning and refutes others
By Kyong-Jee Kim and
Curtis J. Bonk
Review of Literature
We began this project with a review of past studies of the issues and trends in online teaching and learning in higher education. Online Teaching and Learning
enthusiasm for e-learning alternate with a pervasive sense of e-learning gloom, disappointment, bankruptcy and lawsuits, and myriad other contentions.3
Appropriately, the question arises as to where online learning is headed. Navigating online education requires an understanding of the current state and the future direction of online teaching and learning.
The study described here surveyed instructors and administrators in postsecondary institutions, mainly in the
United States, to explore future trends of online education. In particular, the study makes predictions regarding the changing roles of online instructors, student expectations and needs related to online learning, pedagogical innovation, and projected technology use in online teaching and learning.
A recent survey of higher education in the United States reported that more than 2.35 million students enrolled in online courses in fall 2004.4 This report also noted that online education is becoming an important long-term strategy for many postsecondary institutions. Given the rapid growth of online education and its importance for postsecondary institutions, it is imperative that institutions of higher education provide quality online programs.
The literature addresses student achievement and satisfaction as two means to assess the quality of online education. Studies focused on academic achievement have shown mixed reviews,5 but some researchers point out that online education can be at least as effective as traditional classroom instruction.6 Several research studies on student satisfaction in online courses or programs reported both satisfied and