The Myth of Access in Distance Education

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Arguments for how distance education does not necessarily lead to access to higher education for nontraditional students.

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The Myth of Access in Distance Education

  1. 1. Distance Education & Access to Higher Education Examining the experiences of nontraditional students 5/09 Halona Y. Agouda, M.Ed. Doctoral Student George Mason University [email_address]
  2. 2. Does distance ed provide access to higher ed & post-secondary training for nontraditional students? <ul><li>ACCESS </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Physical </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Academic Support Services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Financial Support </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Who is the nontraditional student? <ul><li>AGE: 25 yrs and older </li></ul><ul><li>RISK FACTORS </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lapse btw HS graduation & starting college </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Part-time college enrollment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of financial support from parents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Full-time job </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Caretaker of kids or other dependants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Single parent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of high school diploma or GED </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Nontraditional Students & Distance Ed <ul><li>College enrollment in distance ed growing: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>2.3 million in 2004 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3.2 million in 2005 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Distance ed appeals to busy students who have competing priorities </li></ul>
  5. 5. How does the higher ed system view distance education? <ul><li>Increases access for students who would not come to campus because of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Work & family obligations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Location </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disabilities </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. My views <ul><li>Distance ed offers a viable opportunity to participate in higher ed, however </li></ul><ul><li>Does distance ed offer wide & equal access for all? </li></ul><ul><li>Is offering access sufficient? </li></ul>
  7. 7. Physical Access <ul><li>Need broadband to fully participate in online learning </li></ul><ul><li>Rural residents with broadband = 24.7% </li></ul><ul><li>Urban residents with broadband = 40.4% </li></ul><ul><li>Those with broadband use it daily </li></ul><ul><li>Many urban residents claim broadband is too expensive </li></ul><ul><li>Only 22.6% of workers aged 25-60 with 1+ disabilities has broadband </li></ul>
  8. 8. Academic Support Services <ul><li>Online learning support services important for student success </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers not comfortable with online technologies </li></ul><ul><li>Resources for online ed are put into the technology, not training for teachers and students </li></ul>
  9. 9. Financial Support <ul><li>75% of students work, while financial aid supports the remaining 25% </li></ul><ul><li>Little aid available exclusively for online students </li></ul><ul><li>Financial aid is complicated particularly for those who are working poor or middle class </li></ul>
  10. 10. What does this mean for higher education? <ul><li>Attrition rates in distance ed is 10% to 20% higher than classroom courses </li></ul><ul><li>Claims of access to higher ed for nontraditional students are incomplete </li></ul><ul><li>Need to widen the discussion to how distance ed can be used to help students persist in higher ed </li></ul>

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