The Myth of Convenient, Affordable, and At the Same Time Quality Online Education

This is not an article to justify the current cost or price of online education. It is possible to have expensive, yet low quality and inconvenient online education or you may not be getting worth of the financial student loan debt. But, I will argue that both quality and convenience comes with a price. The marketing messages of online education programs out there may be giving a misrepresentation of the reality in online education today. I hope this article will be educating those who continue to hear the advertisement of online education programs focusing on convenience, affordability, and quality. Let’s start with convenience. What do you imagine when you close your eyes and think about convenient online education? A person in PJs laying on a bed or another person laying on the grass on a sunny day and staring a laptop? Convenient means that you may not need to follow a fixed schedule or drive to a brick and mortar school. But, this does not mean you are free from any accountability as a student to be successful in your online course. In fact, you may need to create some inconvenience to be successful. I will argue that as convenience goes traditional education may be more convenient in certain areas. First, you may not need to be as tech-savvy as an online student to become successful, or you may not need to create your own learning calendar (possess self-regulated learning skills) to be successful in traditional education because your calendar is provided to you. However, online education requires self-discipline, a lot more critical thinking and problem-solving skills at times. In short, online education is a different way of education, but it does not mean convenient. As the affordability goes, it may not be very affordable to the colleges and programs if the intent is to provide quality education. Unlike traditional education, online education requires a lot more stakeholders involved. In addition to faculty, IT staff, instructional designers, and library personnel are some to name involved directly during the development of online courses. The programs may go for hiring less paid adjunct faculty, increase the number of students in the course, or create cookie-cutter courses which are not improved frequently to decrease the production costs of online courses to compensate the cost. As I discussed in the previous paragraph, when affordability goes up, most likely the quality will go down. You may not be able to reach your instructor on time, your courses may not have instructor presence, the materials might be outdated or not much valuable information to get out of your course. So, in short, I do not believe that online education which is convenient, affordable and at the same time quality exists. The three characteristics mentioned in this article are intertwined and directly affect each other.

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