Between 20% and 50% of those taking online courses never finish. But ignorance or misconceptions about this seem to be driving public opinion to push for more internet-based education, especially at public universities. As today’s Los Angeles Times reports:
“For Steven Ancheta, the time is long past for more arguments about online education’s merits and convenience. The West Covina resident, who is enrolled in a fully online program for a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University, praised the experience and the chance for working people to take evening or weekend classes.
“His positive view about online education was strongly supported in a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll. Among the registered voters who participated in the survey, 59% said they agreed with the idea that increasing the number of online classes at California’s public universities will make education more affordable and accessible. However, 34% expressed fears that expanding online classes will reduce access to professors, diminish the value of college degrees and not save money.
“For Ancheta, 21, an accounts manager at a telephone company who participated in the poll, the scheduling freedom of online classes “is a very pleasant alternative.” Moreover, he said, “You can pull away the exact same amount of knowledge you can pull away from a traditional classroom.” The support for online education comes as government and university leaders nationwide are debating whether to expand those computerized classes that usually include videotaped lectures and digital chat rooms. Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed giving the University of California and California State University systems each $10 million more next year to add online offerings, despite some faculty skepticism. Several California public universities have joined with such commercial providers as Coursera and Udacity for online courses that enroll thousands of students at a time. Increasing online courses, as long as those classes are not mandatory, was favored across age ranges in the poll. Countering stereotypes that older people might fear technology, 60% of survey respondents over the age of 50 liked the idea while 58% of those between 18 and 49 said they did.