Borderless Online Degrees: Everyplace Learning

Borderless Online Degrees: Everyplace Learning

Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8912-9.ch001


Every worker needs postsecondary training to enable nations to develop strong economies as automation replaces the need for low-skilled workers. A high school degree no longer qualifies students for entry-level jobs. As developing countries struggle to build and finance the campuses and staff needed to meet the growing demand, borderless online degrees are an affordable, scalable solution. The degrees also create new international market opportunities for all higher education at a time of reduced financial support and declining enrollments and enable all postsecondary students to have an international learning experience. The task will be to create a virtual learning class of the same quality and student success as found on campus. This chapter introduces benefits, challenges, and solutions of borderless online education.
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Two thousand years ago, Sparta funded primary and secondary education to train soldiers. In Athens, education was privately funded to prepare students for roles as soldiers and in government. The curriculum was expanded to include reading, arithmetic, and literature. Although the schools were private, they were so inexpensive that poor children were only able to attend for a few years. Consequently, education was limited to the wealthy. Universal education would take another 2,000 years to become a reality. France began moving toward that goal following the French Revolution in 1789. In the 1800s, Germany established universal education that led to careers in industry or academics. However, it was not until the 1950s that Europe implemented compulsory primary education. By 1918, all students in the United States were required to complete primary education. Today, high school education is compulsory in all regions in the U.S., and students are required to attend high school until they are 16. There has been a pendulum swing in the purpose of U.S. secondary education, shifting between vocational and academic training. Currently, the shift from vocational training to emphasis on access to university is sliding back toward job preparation.

In the 1800s, higher education in the United States only served a small portion of the population (Gelber, 2007). Prior to World War II higher education was limited to the wealthy. Following the War, returning soldiers used the GI Bill to attend colleges and universities. The launch of the first satellite, Sputnik, by the Soviet Union in 1957 created a need in the U.S. for scientists and engineers. The additional scholarships and students loans opened access to a college education for millions of students.

An alternative to face-to-face instruction was added in the 19th Century when the University of Chicago offered the first mail correspondence courses. Virtual classrooms had a modest beginning in the 20th Century when colleges began delivering courses on the radio. New York University was the first to take the next step, offering televised classes in 1957 (O’Connor, 1974, September 27). Nevertheless, the primary method of instruction remained like that of the ancient Greeks and Romans -- students learning by gathering with professors in classrooms.

The birth of online education in the 1990s introduced virtual classrooms, which enabled anyone with a computer and Internet to take a course without having to sit in an on-campus classroom. The democratization of higher education and the growth of postsecondary online learning in the United States was unprecedented. In 2002 about 1.6 million students took at least one online course (Allen & Seaman, 2003). Online enrollment steadily increased, reaching nearly 7 million students by 2011 (Allen & Seaman, 2013). Figures 1 and 2 show the online enrollment increase. The trend is presented on separate graphs because the definition of online learning evolved along a delivery continuum from face-to-face to fully online. Online distance learning (ODL), web-facilitated, blended, and hybrid learning fall between the two extremes. This expanded definition changed how universities counted online learning (J. Seaman, personal communication, July 4, 2018). Online learning has grown continuously since 2002, with 30% of all postsecondary students taking one or more online courses in 2015 (Allen & Seaman, 2017).

Figure 1.

Postsecondary online enrollment trend in the United States: 2002-2011

Figure 2.

Postsecondary online enrollment trend in the United States: 2002-201


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