While his two roommates sleep, University of Florida freshman Anish Patel goes to class. But, he only moves from his bed to his desk two feet away to attend his 9:35 economics class. Given the opportunity to either attend class or watch a live stream video over his computer, Patel says he, like many, prefers the latter.
The University of Florida is just one brick and mortar school to adopt online education programs. And, it’s not necessarily for student and professor convenience. Instead, with rising student enrollment, ground schools have been forced to address the lack of teaching space. 1,500 undergraduate students are enrolled in Patel’s economics class and with no space large enough to house all of the students- live streams of the class are offered as an alternative.
Popular psychology, biology, and statistics classes (among others) are also offered online- and many students say they prefer the online platform to the face-to-face classrooms. University of Florida provost, Joe Glover agrees- “quite honestly, the higher education industry in the United States has not been tremendously effective in the face-to-face mode if you look at national graduation rates. At the very least we should be experimenting with other modes of delivery of education.”
The University of Iowa and North Carolina are two other prominent ground schools who have introduced mandatory online courses or other online course options. The University of North Carolina, for instance, requires first year Spanish students to take their language course online.
Not only do the online courses allow educators to address growing student enrollment issues and significant education funding cuts, they also ready students for the predominantly digital workplace and provide them with necessary tech skills. Additionally, says Provost Glover, as more and more students turn to the internet for their educational needs, traditional ground schools need to offer students the Web-based learning options that they want. Continual increases in online school enrollment attest to this, says Glover. “We see this as the future of higher education.”