Investigation Into the Selection of Online Learning Platforms and Tools in Higher Education

Investigation Into the Selection of Online Learning Platforms and Tools in Higher Education

Paul Evan Acquaro (Teachers College, Columbia University, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4111-0.ch008
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Selecting and implementing the platforms and tools to support online learning effectively in higher education is currently a challenge for which there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Finding the right balance between supporting strong pedagogy, offering training and support, providing data security and privacy, ensuring ease of use, among other factors, shape the decisions that leaders in higher education make as they develop and implement online learning environments. This chapter explores the results of a study conducted during the Fall of 2016 to better understand the efforts higher education experts undergo to develop online learning environments. The study considers the sometimes-competing pedagogical and pragmatic needs such efforts entail and seeks to identify trends and best practices.
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According to a study by Picciano & Seamen (2009) it was estimated that over a million K-12 students took an online course during the 2007 -2008 academic year. In higher education, it is estimated that in the United States, that at the same time over 3.9 million higher education students were taking a course online (Allen & Seamen, 2008). By 2012, according to federal data, the percentage of American higher education institutions offering some level of online offerings had reached 86.5% (Allen & Seaman, 2014). Considering the growth of online education, it is important think of the impact that online learning will have on the structure of higher education in the 21st century. A report by the Chronicle Research Service (2009) made the case that the traditional four year college experience is no longer the norm, “as demonstrated by the proliferation of colleges (particularly for-profit institutions), hybrid class schedules with night and weekend meetings, and, most significantly, online learning” (p.1) This change in higher education norms is outlines by Ortagus’ (2017) examination of the characteristics of students enrolling in online courses and found that “postsecondary online learners are not necessarily confined by niche characteristics that require the convenient and flexible benefits of online instruction to gain access to higher education, particularly for students who supplement their residential education with some online courses.” (p. 52).

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