IN QUESTIONABLE JOB MARKET, ONLINE EDUCATION PROVIDES ANSWERS
FAYETTE, Iowa (Jan. 18, 2010) – In December, the American workforce shed another 85,000 jobs, holding the country’s jobless rate steady at 10 percent. As Americans continue to struggle to maintain their jobs or gain employment, they have sought a means to make themselves more valuable to employers – enter online education.
“With the job market in such dire straits, many people are utilizing the flexibility of online education to make themselves more competitive,” said Dr. Alan Walker, president of Upper Iowa University (UIU). “Enrollment for online education continues to climb during this time while we are seeing traditional educational institutions across the country making cuts or shutting their doors completely.”
At UIU, enrollment in the online program is increasing 25 percent annually. Nationwide, more than 20 percent of all college students were enrolled in at least one online college course in fall 2007, an increase of 13 percent from 2006, according to a 2008 Alfred P. Sloane Foundation study. Whereas, traditional on-campus enrollment nationwide increased one percent over that period.
“What we are finding is that students like the flexibility of taking courses online, enabling them to continue to work full time or take care of their families while still pursing their educational goals,” said Dr. Walker. “The key is offering a high-caliber online curriculum with the comfort of knowing a campus or center is nearby if needed.”
Eighty-five percent of students who take courses online through Upper Iowa live in the same region as one of the 15 UIU centers offering the course, giving students access to a brick-and-mortar school at all times. It also gives students the option of a hybrid courseload that combines online and on-campus classes. A meta-analysis release by the Department of Education in June 2009 shows that students who took all or part of their classes online did better, on average, than those who experienced only face-to-face instruction.
“I think those in higher education expect online education to continue to play a bigger role in the industry,” said Dr. Walker. “As the job market and the American economy rebound in the next few years, it will be important to examine how online education contributed.”
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Upper Iowa University is a private, not-for-profit university providing undergraduate and graduate degree programs through an award-winning online program, via independent study, at 15 center locations throughout the U.S., including military bases, at its residential campus in Fayette, and through International centers in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia. Upper Iowa University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, a member of the North Central Association.