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Today’s society is rapidly evolving and advancing, and is often times hard to keep up with the newest and latest technology. Just as technology is evolving, education is also doing the same. Distance education, learning that does not take place inside of a classroom, has been around for over a century, however, online education has only just emerged within the last few decades. Online education is rapidly growing at a fast pace within the last few years. There are many opportunities online education gives students; the major one is providing access to higher education, as many students would not be able to earn a degree if it was not for online courses. This paper will discuss the history of distance learning and online education, the popularity of online courses, the advantages and opportunities online education provides students. In addition student success stories will be included and details about where online education is headed in the future.

To start off, distance education has been around a whole lot longer that one would think. The very first school to offer distance education was the University of Chicago in 1892. The University first utilized the U.S. Postal Service for student correspondence, and then eventually expanded to live radio shows in 1921 and also televised broadcasts in the year 1963. Distance education has been around for over a whopping 120 years! As time went on, distance education continued to change. In the 1980’s students could earn their degree via satellite transmission. It wasn’t until the 1990’s when distance education became available to students online. The first accredited online university by the Higher Learning Commission was Jones International University in 1993 (Crotty, 2012).

What is online education? According to Study2u (2013), “online learning is a method of delivering educational information via the Internet instead of in a physical classroom.” When online education first became a hit, there were few degree options students had to choose from. A lot has changed from the mid-1990s until today, including online education. As time went on, online education continued to develop and grow (Lambert, n.d.). Colleges use various software programs to support an online student classroom website. The online classrooms are virtual and support discussion boards, chats, webcasts, etc. Students can now access their online classroom anywhere in the world that has Internet connection 24/7 (Snyder, 2013).

The popularity of online learning has been steadily on the rise. It is estimated that students took at least one course online in fall 2010, and online education is a long-term strategy by 65% of college (Crotty, 2012). Between 2007 and 2011 the number of students enrolling in online courses doubled. In 2010 there were over 6.1 million students enrolled in college online courses in the United States. The for-profit colleges and universities have nearly the highest number of enrolled students for online programs, such as University of Phoenix, American Public University, and DeVry University (Sheehy, 2012). In 2010 the University of Phoenix ranked number one against all of the colleges across the United States with a whopping 307,965 in their online division alone. The second highest-ranking college was Kaplan University with 77,966 enrollments, which is nearly one-third less than the University of Phoenix (NCES, 2013).

As more and more students take interest in online learning, more and more schools around the nation are offering more online courses, and even some offering degrees 100% online. For instance, Arizona State University recently started making certain degrees available 100% for students. These include undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as online certificate programs. One of the goals ASU has for 2013 and beyond is to enroll 100,000 online and distance education degree seeking students (Arizona State University, 2013). Results from a study conducted shows that in 2011 there were over 2,500 higher education institutions that offered online courses. This includes both nonprofit and for-profit colleges and universities (Lytle, 2011).

Online learning is making higher education more accessible for students. For many students online education is their online option and would not be able to pursue a degree if it was not for online. According to Nash (2013), practically 7 million students depend on online education to acquire their degree. Location also plays a part of why students select the online modality. A study was conducted this year that surveyed 1,500 college students, and 45% stated that they would have not pursued a college degree if the online program was not offered (Huffington Post, 2013). Online learning changes people’s lives everyday by providing the opportunity for them to attend college and reach their goals.

There are several benefits to taking online courses and reasons why students chose online over a physical campus. Results from a survey conducted showed the top reasons students chose the online modality, which included, the convenience of accessing the classroom at any time, flexibility to study around work and family obligations, able to study at own pace, elimination of travel, and overall lower cost. There is no set time students have to be logged in, which means a student can go to class at any time of the day. Typically there weekly due dates for assignments to keep students from lagging behind and waiting until near the end of the course to get assignments turned in. Flexibility is definitely a plus for students who have hectic schedules, which include work and family schedules. A ground campus may not be an option for students who work full-time jobs during the day or long shifts. Numerous students also have families to tend to and may also be a cause of why they cannot attend a traditional campus. In certain regions, especially rural areas, there may not be any campuses close by for students to attend, so attending online is their only option. Going to school at the convenience of their home also allows students to save on parking passes, gas, and travel expenses. (Huffington Post, 2013). Dr. Mika Nash, an Academic Dean and Associate Professor at Champlain College, believes, “online education is one of the most accessible, affordable, and effective educational options available to students today.”

Networking is another great benefit of online courses. Internet connection is basically all you need to access the online classroom from anywhere in the world. A student might live in California and have an instructor that is from New York, in addition have classmates that are all over the country. This is a great opportunity to meet new peers that do not live in your area, and may have very different believes than people do in your area. This gives students the chance to network and learn new things. These networking

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Online Education And Distance Education. (July 12, 2021). Retrieved from