Rhetorical Analysis: Online Education Essay

Education has evolved immensely from its beginnings to present day. Previously, books were the only way of portraying information. This was then presented to the class via an instructor(It was the professors duty to educate the students on the content contained in those books). Over the past decade, however, technology has begun to interfere with how teaching works, in a positive way. Introduction of online classes has only appeared in the past 5 years or so( Online classes were introduced to the education system about 5 years ago and are growing in popularity), .

With the quality of online classes progressing (improving) with each passing year, it has come to a point where it (they) can be compared to the traditional classroom setting. Typically, a student goes off to college and sits through an hour long lecture and takes notes and tests periodically. The introduction of online classes has begun (began) morphing this standard of teaching that college students have been accustomed to. Whether or not these online classes are considered useful tools to expand ones education has been on the forefront of debate for some time.

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The question is not if the online universities are working, but more or less if the quality of the information is preparing students for the world in equal fashion to what a face-to-face university represents. To begin with, online classes can raise concern for attendance. Robert Mendenhall of Western Governors University addresses this by stating that although attendance can interfere with the quality of online courses, the important factor is if students can gain the knowledge they need to be successful through other means ( Mendenhall, 2).

This statement can be interpreted by understanding what the “other means” could be. The statement by Mendenhall was directed towards large student, general education classes. Rather than going to every class, it can be more beneficial to study rather than attend class and sit through a pointless lecture. The student controls how much information they want to retain and learn. Whether online class or traditional university, the quality of the information will either be high quality, or low quality. Since classes can e skipped at a traditional college or an online class, the online class can allow for the student to study what they need and to learn at their own pace. Insert transition to next article In the article “Effectiveness of Fully Online Courses for College Studfents: Response to a department of Education Meta-Analysis”, Shanna Jaggars shares close to the same opinion. However, the fact that online students can be known to be less likely complete their courses cannot be ignored (Jaggars, 2). Online courses attempt to counteract this problem by reducing the cost and time of commuting.

If the online classes can allow the students to work at a schedule that fits for them, there should be a higher chance that they will attend class since it is on their own time. Although this is the goal, studies show that attendance and success rate of online classes are still on par with that of traditional schooling. Coupled with attendance, success rates of online classes has been highly studied and analyzed. The word success must be defined since online classes are different than traditional universities. Mendenhall agrees with the standard definition for success of a university.

Retention and graduation rates are important, but placing too much emphasis on these two qualities can backfire (Mendenhall, 1). The real measure of success should be more aimed at what graduates know and are able to do, referred to as competencies (Mendellson, 3). If the competencies of online courses are equal to or better than traditional schooling, then online degrees should hold the same value as a traditional degree. One major characteristic of possible higher dropout rates for online classes, according to Jaggars, is the characteristic of the students themselves and not the actual content (Jaggars, 2).

So she clearly agrees with Mendenhall in that online courses offer the same competencies. Also, dropout rates aren’t due to improper teaching methods. In fact, blame can also be given to teachers of online courses. For example, some traditional universities that also offer online courses have teachers that teach that subject also run the online course. Rather than utilizing the capabilities of technology, teachers will simply transfer in class curriculum to an online format (Mendellson, 4). However, it has been concluded that regardless of content, the outcome of online courses is statistically proven.

A 2010 meta-analysis review of online learning done by the Department of Education concluded that online learning was as good as or slightly more effective than traditional university classrooms. Likewise, online education is essentially the same information as a classroom would bestow, so the outcome should at least be the same (Mendellson, 1). With more and more (inceasing) support for online classrooms, the technology should continue to be improved since the results are good (appreciable? , proving lucrative? ).

Correspondingly, Jaggars presented information that agrees with the aforementioned. Coincidently, Jaggars mentions a different 2009 study by the US Department of Education that concluded that student learning outcomes in hybrid-online and fully online courses were equal to or better than those in traditional face-to-face courses (Jaggars, 8). Additionally, 7 studies were referenced that showed no statistical significant differences in learning outcomes. This can only result in exponential growth of online courses and their effect on learning outcomes.

Obvious strides have been made over the decade to improve and embrace online education. With more support and work, positive outcomes will continue to be revealed. This will open a world of opportunity for older, less fortunate citizens to obtain a college education. Since one aim of fully online courses is to allow low income, first generation, or academically underprepared students to earn an education. This goal can be continually met (continue to be) met with more supportive articles like the two previously discussed. Jaggars, Shanna S. Effectiveness of Fully Online Courses for College Students: Response to a Department of Education Meta-Analysis. ” Ebsco. Community College Research Center, 1 July 2010. Web. 12 Oct. 2012. Robert Mendenhall, President of a nonprofit online university, shares his views on why technology should continue to be incorporated with education. Research continues to prove how online education is producing similar if not greater outcomes than traditional education. Although most online courses are taught in a “virtual” classroom by a professor, the quality is what is important.

Quality of education is typically determined by retention of information and graduation rates. Although these numbers are informational, the use of competencies should be more important. Learning will become the constant and time becomes the variable for online classes, rather than the traditional time constant and learning varying. With strict testing of competencies and evaluations, online degrees can equal that of a traditional degree. This will eventually create a much more educated society. Mendenhall, Robert W. “The Digital Campus. How Technology Can Improve Online Learning. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 11 Nov. 2011. Web. 12 Oct. 2012. <http://chronicle. com/article/How-Technology-Can-Improve/129616/>. Shanna Smith presents a variety of research that studies the effect of online classes compared to traditional schooling. Online learning has become increasingly popular among post secondary students but seems to cause a higher drop out rate. She counters this by explaining that the content of online learning isn’t the cause, rather the characteristic of the individual who decides to drop out.

Student interaction with teacher and other students is often limited, but testing shows the although learning outcome is increased slightly with more interaction, knowledge and course learning is not negatively affected. Across 7 separate studies, no statistical significant differences in learning outcomes was recorded. Overall, a stronger push for technological inclusion in education can and will have a positive effect on those that cannot enroll in a typical university