DEANZ Panel on the Future of Distance Learning By Choconancy1 on flickrLast week, I spent a few days at in Tyler Texas attending the Northeast Texas Consortium Summer Distance Education Conference.

I was lucky enough to get to present at the conference (more on that in a future post!) and got to spend some time talking to university and college educators from around the northern part of Texas.

I was surprised to find most of the universities and colleges were offering their programs online to traditional and non-traditional students regardless of whether that student was on-campus (dorm, etc) or off-campus.  In addition, it was surprising to hear that at some universities that around 60% of students living in dorms where taking at least one course online. There were even a few people telling me of entire programs offered online regardless of the location of the students.

Back in 2001, I started my MBA at The University of Texas at Dallas. I lived close to campus but really (really) wanted to take some online courses to make it more flexible for me to work on my courses.  Because I was an ‘on-campus’ student, I couldn’t take online courses….I would have had to transfer to their ‘online MBA’ to take online courses.   I always thought that segregation was strange…but it seems that there’s no longer a segregation between on-campus students and off-campus students…and I think that’s a good thing.

One of the things that became very clear to me while at the NetNet conference was that universities are really interested in moving more courses and programs online.  Perhaps this is a cost saving measure – or maybe there’s just that much demand for online courses these days…regardless…the future of higher ed (and perhaps, high school?) is online.

Does online education mean fully online with no face-to-face interaction?  I’m not sure. For some courses and/or programs, perhaps it does.

In my doctorate, I’ve not met a single professor from Dakota State University and I’ve only met one other doctoral candidate face-to-face…in face, I just met him last week at the conference even though I’ve ‘known’ him virtually for 4 years.

The future of education is online.

What does that mean for social interaction?  Is an education really only the things you learn from a book and/or from a professor or does it also include the social interaction that occurs during class and throughout campus?   Using aspects of social media, can that social interaction be recreated or simulated?  How well does knowledge really flow in online courses?

All interesting questions I think….some of them are being looked at by one of my doctoral candidate cohorts…more on that research in later posts too 🙂

What’s your thoughts on the future of education being completely online? For it…against it?  Would love your thoughts.

Image Credit: DEANZ Panel on the Future of Distance Learning By Choconancy1 on flickr