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Internet Learning

Internet Learning

Abstract

The Internet has evolved to be the new revolution in educational delivery. A 2008 Sloan Consortium report on the state of online education in the United States revealed some startling information. For example, at the turn of this century approximately 10 percent of post-secondary enrollments at degree-granting institutions were in online courses or programs; but, by 2007, the number had grown to over 20 percent. This growth translated into an average annual increase of nearly 20 percent at a time when overall enrollment growth in higher education averaged only around 2 percent. Schools recognized that students were voting with the click of a mouse, and, by 2007, the percentage of schools defining online education as critical to their long-term strategy had grown to more than 70 percent of public institutions and more than 53 percent of private colleges and universities. Online courses and programs are now offered by universities large and small, including many of the nation’s most prestigious schools. As schools throughout the nation have looked to the rapidly evolving technological medium as a solution to education delivery challenges and as a way to expand existing education markets, the medium and its accompanying technologies have evoked mixed reactions among students, administrators and faculty. The pervasiveness and visibility of online instruction has served not only to magnify its strengths (e.g., the benefits that accrue to an asynchronous format) but to reveal areas of concern (e.g., maintaining academic/ethical integrity, especially in online testing, and issues relating to oversight and academic freedom) as well. It is the purpose of this paper to illuminate and elaborate on these complex issues from administrative, practical, ethical and academic perspectives, with a view toward generating further discussion on overcoming the evolving tensions related to online teaching.

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