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Monday, December 23, 2013

Report Compares Online and On-Campus Data

In the ongoing debate over whether online-only courses are just as good as on-campus ones, a new report shows that in-person campus courses still have the edge.

The report, compiled by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) Cooperative for Educational Technologies (known as WCET), surveyed college institutions providing solely online programs as well as institutions offering a mix of online and on-campus courses.

According to Campus Technology, WCET’s report touts the finding that the online schools’ courses boasted an 89% completion rate, not bad when compared to the 94% rate for face-to-face classes. But then WCET immediately backed away from that statistic, noting just four of 10 online-only schools provided data—presumably the others had less impressive completion stats—and the rate might not represent a true average.

It’s easy to understand how busy adults might be more apt to drop an online course than one where they’ve already put in a live appearance, especially if they’re not motivated to take the course to earn a specific degree, to meet an employer’s requirement, or to keep parents off their back for not having a job.

Other results from the WCET survey, however, reveal a gap in student support services between online and on-campus programs, which might make some difference in whether students persist to completion. For example, only 59% of responding schools make tutoring available for online students. Just 30% furnish 24-hour technical support for online students, even though they’re more likely to be studying at odd hours.

Some schools don’t provide any help for disabled students taking online courses and a few institutions have no library resources available to online students.

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