Magazine article University Business

Higher Education's Economic Innovation: The Evolution of Online Learning and Its Part in Economic Growth

Magazine article University Business

Higher Education's Economic Innovation: The Evolution of Online Learning and Its Part in Economic Growth

Article excerpt

A CROSS MANY COLLEGE CAMPUSES, one of the most innovative, et sometimes controversial, initiatives in recent years has been the embrace and development of online programs. While avoiding the philosophical debate between online educational delivery and traditional on-campus programs, it is more critical to discuss the philosophy of the creation of online learning and its relevance in American economic growth.

America knows higher education. No other country in the world possesses the breadth and depth of comprehensive educational delivery like our uniquely American system.

Though sometimes labeled a bureaucratic, traditionally mired venture that lacks ability to change with the times, American higher education today represents one of the most innovative and complex postsecondary systems the world has ever seen.

During the civil rights movement, it was our own colleges and universities across America that led the charge to make college affordable and accessible to all--creating a bridge for uplifting the economic position of millions of Americans. In the 1970s, the burgeoning American community college system led the charge to tackle the monumental training needs of our workforce and to retrain dislocated workers from primarily manufacturing sectors to rising service and technology-based sectors--making America's workforce one of the most productive in the world.

American success has always had its underpinning in thinking beyond what is for what could be. Over the last 10 to 15 years, online learning has grown out of specific need of the American people. Today, this growth continues in response to America's changing economic and social climate.

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ADDRESSING CHALLENGES

Both students and administrators alike are turning to online education to help solve very critical and very real challenges. For students, the recent fuel crisis has led many struggling students to look for opportunities to reduce trips to campus. Online education has provided the appropriate solution. For administrators, the high cost of building campus infrastructure, and the subsequent utility costs to maintain such infrastructure, has led to the development of more online courses for growing student populations. …

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