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Two National Universities Demonstrate Why Online Schools Are Today’s Educational Innovators

While traditional, campus-based colleges continue to see flat enrollments, online universities are seeing steady up-ticks in student numbers. The primary reason for that growth is due to the flexibility online programs offer. However, two recent innovations by two different national online schools also demonstrate why these institutions continue to be so popular; they are simply the trend setters for higher education.

Capella University Offers New Blog
The traditional image of a college student is that “of an 18- to 22-year-old who goes full time to college directly from high school and lives on an ivy-covered campus.” That image is fallacious in the extreme since only about 15% of college students fit that profile. The other 85% “are part-time students, or are over the age of 22, and increasingly participate in programs that don’t require being on a campus at all.”
IStock PhotoThat fact has lead to the creation of a blog devoted to improving education for the majority of college students, “The Other 85 Percent.” The blog’s editor is Michael J. Offerman, EdD, the former president of Capella University and now vice chairman of external university initiatives for the college. Offerman has an extensive background in both adult and distance learning, and he recently led the new Transparency by Design initiative.

According to Offerman, the intent of the blog is “to explore the current state of adult higher education delivered at a distance” with a focus on online schools. Offerman sees the adult focused, online option as a “tremendous opportunity for creativity and innovation.” In a nutshell, his interest is particular to learning outcomes or the specific knowledge that “a person will learn in college precisely what they need to know to succeed in their careers.”

In addition, Offerman seeks to provide a forum for discussion of the following critical questions:

Why do we need adult-serving colleges and universities?
Is online learning effective?
Is online education valued?
How can you convince people that it should be?
Why is it that colleges and universities serving adults
at a distance are leaders
in the reporting of real learning outcomes?

By being university-based, the blog has initial credibility. It also collects into one place the many key discussion points that must be addressed to further help the majority of college students continue their college education. Most importantly, it uses current technology yet does not rest on the fact that online education is the format already doing the moving and shaking.

A quick scan of page one reveals snippets and links to some of the very articles that should form the focus of the discussion. In particular, the site references the report on America’s falling degree attainment status that formed the basis of one our of recent posts, Real Economic Stimulus Needs a Long-Range, Educational Approach.

This blog concept is precisely why online colleges are currently setting the educational pace.

American InterContinental University Online (AIU Online) Launches AIU Mobile
Another online university taking critical steps towards innovations is the web-based campus of American InterContinental University. In recent days the school has announced the launch of an all new branch of the school, AIU Mobile.

The new concept is touted as “an easy-to-use mobile education delivery channel that truly defines the word ‘portability. While delivering many of the same elements that AIU online provides students, AIU Mobile takes the step of allowing students to access online educational programming as well as the necessary support systems in place for those program through web-enabled cell phones and other wireless devices.

AIU MobileWe wrote about the difference between e-learning and mobile learning in our post Mobile Learning vs. E-Learning, Is There a Difference? AIU Mobile is precisely the mobile learning format that brings the classroom to a mobile phones or PDA. The result is to potentially tailor the educational opportunities to an even greater extent, introducing the two concepts of “just-in-time” and “just-for-me.”

AIU Mobile appears to meet the critical components of this next generation of learning. It provides live access technology with the ability to access all critical school (class assignments, instructor directories, campus email, grades, and video technology). Simply stated, a lack of a computer is simply not a problem anymore.

It is great to see this continued push to the edge of technology by AIU, a school that has regained its footing with the recent elimination of its prior accreditation issues.


1 Al Menard { 02.21.08 at 3:57 pm }

Enjoyed the article about the distance learning and the quote especially of how it can increase economic development. Have these schools gone through all the necessities of transfer credits and accreditation? (Hi Tom…great site….hope to hear from you. )

2 Thomas { 02.21.08 at 8:52 pm }

Thanks for stopping by – both schools are fully accreditated by regional agencies, Capella by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and AIU by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Inc. AIU did have a few prior issues and was on probation for two years but recently corrected all concerns and became fully accreditated once again in early December.

Tom Hanson

3 Tom Martellone { 04.03.08 at 11:56 pm }

I earned my MS in Educational Administration from Capella. I am currently enrolled in a doctoral program through Walden University. I enjoy the flexibility of distance learning, and I am afforded an opportunity to participate in a doctoral program I can not get here in Maine.

Mike Schmoker in his book, Results Now, which I have linked to on my Blog, has noted that students do not write enough, and that writing provides a person or student the opportunity to demonstrate true mastery or understanding of concepts learned. The online forum forces a person to do much of their work in writing, therefore, getting to the root of their understanding or new found knowledge.

Interesting post Mr. Hanson!

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