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ERIC Number: ED515135
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jan
Pages: 60
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 134
Online Learning: Does It Help Low-Income and Underprepared Students? CCRC Working Paper No. 26. Assessment of Evidence Series
Jaggars, Shanna Smith
Community College Research Center, Columbia University
Advocates of online learning are optimistic about its potential to promote greater access to college by reducing the cost and time of commuting and, in the case of asynchronous approaches, by allowing students to study on a schedule that is optimal for them. This goal of improved access has been one of the top motivators for postsecondary institutions to expand their distance education offerings, which has in turn helped drive a strong increase in online course enrollments over the last decade. A series of technology-based classroom initiatives has also attracted strong attention from postsecondary educators. The enthusiasm surrounding these and other innovative, technology-based programs has led educators to ask whether the continuing expansion of online learning could be leveraged to increase the academic access, progression, and success of low-income and underprepared college students. This paper examines the literature for evidence regarding the impact of online learning on these populations. First, a research review strongly suggests that online coursework--at least as it is currently and typically implemented--may hinder progression for low-income and underprepared students. Second, the paper explores why students might struggle in these courses, discusses current access barriers to online education, and offers suggestions on how public policy and institutional practice could be changed to allow online learning to better meet its potential for these students. A tabular summary of studies is appended. (Contains 2 figures and 10 footnotes.)
Community College Research Center. Available from: CCRC Publications. Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street Box 174, New York, NY 10027. Tel: 212-678-3091; Fax: 212-678-3699; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Authoring Institution: Columbia University, Community College Research Center