ERIC Number: EJ1156932
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Nov
Abstractor: As Provided
Online Learning: Cheap Degrees or Educational Pluralization?
Ragusa, Angela T.; Crampton, Andrea
British Journal of Educational Technology, v48 n6 p1208-1216 Nov 2017
In an era of shifting social and communication norms, where 76% of Americans surveyed reported they reached for tablets to check online communication before saying "good morning" to partners (Kensington.com, 2014), online education's increased popularity as a "lifestyle" choice is unsurprising (Ragusa, 2007). Qualitative thematic analysis of 289 surveys by university students studying and communicating entirely in a virtual classroom, however, revealed a plethora of assumptions about the changing nature of higher education. A growing gap between internal and distance education was perceived to impact pedagogical quality, interaction levels between students/lecturers for time purchased through tuition and institutional inflexibility with extensions for subject and/or degree completion. Most (53%) distance students found virtual learning paled in comparison with internal classrooms, despite expressing gratitude for improved flexibly to study at their own pace. Many (35%) students "hoped" employers would perceive distance degrees equally rigorous, yet ambiguity emerged about virtual degrees' global acceptance as equal in kind and quality with "traditional" degrees. Despite increased online study and governmental calls to recognize degree accreditation trans-nationally, ensuring quality irrespective of where obtained (Barber, Donnelly, & Rizvi, 2013), virtual degrees remain risky not because students perceive them as cheap consumer-products, but because much human capital and institutional investment are required for success.
Descriptors: Electronic Learning, College Students, Student Surveys, Use Studies, Virtual Universities, Online Courses, Student Attitudes, Educational Attitudes, Educational Change, Higher Education, Distance Education, Educational Quality, Educational Attainment, Conventional Instruction, Comparative Analysis, Educational Benefits, Qualitative Research
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
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