The Future Of Education: On-Line Classes
"The future is outside the traditional campus, outside the traditional classroom. Distance learning is coming on fast," says management philosopher Peter Drucker (qtd. in Ebeling and Gubernick). One form of distance learning, on-line education (courses offered over the Internet), has caught the eye of the public and is forcing educators to reevaluate the present state of the educational system. Because of their convenience, cost, and amount of and access to readily-available information, these on-line classes, specifically those in math and computer science, are becoming more and more prevalent throughout the Internet community.
On-line math and computer science classes are educational courses offered over the Internet. They differ from traditionally taught classes in that they offer a wealth of information which can be easily and quickly accessed with the right equipment (i.e. a computer and Internet connection) and knowledge. They also allow the user to log on to and participate in the class at any time of day at his/her convenience. This may prove advantageous to those with strict work schedules, to those with families, or to those who learn best at their own rate or at different times of day. "This format [on-line classes] is really good for older, nontraditional students who work full-time and have families," says Xeturah Woodley-Tillman, an on-line instructor at Metropolitan State College of Denver (qtd. in Brown).
The presence of and participation in on-line math and computer science classes has been rising ever since the Internet became readily available to the public. For example, four years ago Peterson's college guide listed 93 on-line colleges. In 1997 that number jumped to 762, according to the Distance Learning Guide (Ebeling and Gubernick). "Over 1 million students are now plugged into the virtual college classroom, which compares with 13 million attending brick-and-mortar schools. That number of cyberstudents will more than triple by the turn of the century" (Ebeling and Gubernick). One explanation for this upward trend is that on-line math and computer science courses are usually less expensive than their traditional counterparts. "One of the nice things about this online education is that it has remarkably low overhead," says Fritz Hinrichs, an on-line teacher of 7th-10th grade pre-algebra and precalculus students and one of the pioneers of on-line schooling (qtd. in Tillson). Students of Hinrichs pay the low price of $105 per semester because he teaches out of his home using only his personal computer and multiple phone lines (Tillson). The cost of an on-line college education is often times less expensive than a traditional university education because students avoid paying for room, board and transportation. For example, at the University of Maine a student can complete a bachelor's degree on-line for $14,880. Attending and...