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Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 22, 2013 at 7:12 AM

Study shows online courses could worsen achievement gap

Online learning suits some

A recent Seattle Times article highlights the need to improve success in online courses; however, there’s more to the story [“Online classes could widen achievement gap, study shows,” NWSunday, March 17].

Online courses at two-year colleges make higher education possible for thousands of working adults — many of whom are parents — to balance busy lives without attending class in person. On average, 85 percent of our students who begin an online course complete successfully.

While online students have slightly lower completion rates, the Columbia University study cited uses 2004-2009 data. It does not mention important efforts to help online students succeed: 24/7 access to e-tutoring, free professional development and mandatory faculty training. In 2014, a new learning-management system, “Canvas,” will offer a suite of e-learning tools accessible on any mobile device or social media site and analytics to pinpoint the best content and experiences for students.

Online learning requires self-direction and time management. Just as students have different learning styles, some learn better in a classroom, others online.

While classroom learning dates back hundreds of years, there are still vital lessons to be learned about online education. Colleges continually strive to give every student a chance to succeed, regardless of class format.

–Marty Brown, executive director, State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, Olympia

0 Comments | More in Education, Higher education, technology | Topics: achievement gap, online education

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