Commentary: Online Education – Enriching Society, Creating Personal Opportunity
September 7, 2012 | by Dr. Yoram Neumann
Dr. Yoram Neumann is the chief executive officer of Touro University Worldwide and Touro College Los Angeles.
Online learning is indeed the great equalizer enabling diverse and distant populations to enrich their knowledge through online degree programs. Distance learning is affordable, student-centered and convenient for working adults and for their employers.
The evolving world of higher education is becoming even more effective and accepted by tech-savvy students and their employers. These groups value the ability to allow learning-on-demand which opens new advancement opportunities and mobility to these diverse groups, increasing their success as learners and earners in the ever changing global world.
Ease of Education for Diverse Populations
Our world of growing globalization and facility with different languages and cultures ratifies all the rationale behind distance learning theory. Professors are as diverse as their student populations. Many professors, particularly a growing number with PhDs – in the over 90 percent range at top distance learning institutions – have experienced online learning courses themselves so they know exactly what works and what does not.
Years ago, professors struggled with the technology more, and in many cases, had less time to concentrate on refining teaching techniques and pedagogy focused on online learning to provide students with more customized and personal attention. The precursors to online learning were TV courses in the ‘70s and ‘80s, where two and three hundred students just watched a professor in a sterile room lecture while academic assistants handed out printed material.
Today, the best accredited online schools have increasingly interactive web-based courses with technologies that encourage real-time professor/student interaction.
Course pedagogy is also geared toward the online environment with an eye toward accommodating underserved or diverse student populations. In the past, the student demographic was younger and probably taking a break from the workforce to concentrate on school alone. That luxury is evaporating today, and as a matter of fact, it is widely recognized that online courses are actually more effective learning tools in many circumstances. Shachar and Neumann (2010) estimated and compared the differences between the academic performance of students enrolled in distance education courses relative to those enrolled in traditional settings throughout twenty years of research covering 125 different studies. In 70 percent of the cases, students taking courses by distance education outperformed their student counterparts in the traditionally instructed courses.
Student interaction with other current students or alumni has also blossomed as the technology encourages collegial mentorship among current and former online learners. Realistically, maybe former online learners/graduates are misnomers, as online students tend to get the bug and become lifelong learners with constant interaction and collaboration and a thirst for learning more and more as needed. The best online schools offer and encourage that lifelong learning culture and even work with strategic partner businesses to facilitate directed and ongoing collegial learning
Our fragile economy and the worldwide reality of adult learners juggling work along with higher education for career advancement makes online learning THE answer for career advancement.
Acceptance of Technology
Technology for online learning encourages the process of learning at your own speed and most top schools recognize that their working student populations need coursework and requirements that can be very flexible. When online was in its infancy, the professors, as well as the students, experimented with different techniques and had to deal with inconsistent technologies. We are beyond the point of experimentation and onto tried and proven technology learning capabilities with the top schools providing 24/7 technical assistance and the ability to be in touch with professors on a regular, if not daily, basis. This around-the-clock environment is applauded by employers who are more likely to hire or advance individuals with flexible work experience. Today, most employers consider many online degrees the equivalent of traditional degrees. Almost every top institution of higher learning offers some form of online education.
Acceptance by Employers
This online learning flexibility and coordination with employer’s needs and schedules make online and distance learning these days not only acceptable, but actually preferable by a growing number of employers. Parenthetically, an equally growing number of employers are coming from the ranks of the online learners, so selling them on the process is just preaching to the choir. The U.S. Department of Education also cites various online degrees as actually more effective learning models than other degrees.
The future for online learning as a career-advancement tool is bright now and will continue to brighten as the workforce becomes absolutely familiar with technology, gaming, entertainment and education in a ubiquitous online environment – from cradle to grave.
Employers will more intimately partner with top online institutions to collaboratively develop and institute the specific disciplines those employers need. The military and governments around the world, for instance, will use online technology even more to cost effectively and efficiently train their personnel. The government sector and the new G.I. Bill for education offer exceptional scholarship and assistance programs already. Every indication is that the services will continue to use their online training and assistance as training and recruitment tools, which are exceedingly attractive to private-sector employers.
There will be more selection for certificate and advanced degrees, more collaboration with future employers, advancing technologies to make learning easier and seamless with employers’ needs and even self regulation and government regulation that, if handled properly, will provide all learners and their businesses a way to strengthen production and benefit all market sectors. Indeed, all economies and individuals will benefit as online learning becomes increasingly sophisticated and desirable in our expanding global environment.
Dr. Yoram Neumann is the chief executive officer of Touro University Worldwide and Touro University Los Angeles, which includes a growing online learning division and bricks and mortar division (Touro College Los Angeles)
What Others Are Saying
“TUW’s online master’s degree made it possible for me to consistently meet the study commitments of a high caliber and challenging graduate student program around my work and international travel comments.” said Lorraine Palmer, Director of Corporate Communications for PennyMac and recipient of a Masters in Media and Communications Psychology.
“The individual accomplishments of the class of 2012 are extraordinary. We at TUW are all very proud of their success,” said Dr. Michael Hamlin, Director of Academic Affairs and Institutional Research for Touro University Worldwide.
“Touro University’s on-line Master’s Degree Program has been my inspiration and best friend for two years. The social media explosion has increased life’s pace for everyone and Touro University’s on-line program is just what the doctor ordered to maintain work/life balance while allowing me to explore the future of effective communications,” said Kay Baldwin, graduate of the Media and Communications Psychology program.
“Being a student at TUW has helped me tremendously in the public relations field. The program allowed me to confirm my views on new media in that it narrows the gap between the one communicating the message and the one receiving it. Now I understand the theories and have the education to back it up,”added Doug Fleischli, Media and Communications Psychology graduate.
“Media and Communications Psychology is a master’s degree program that emphasizes 21st century literacy and is a field of study that is growing significantly. Media Psychology is now an accepted subspecialty in psychology. The Media Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association is now leading the way in pioneering this growing field,” said Dr. Bernard Luskin, CEO and Senior Provost.
Touro University Worldwide is enrolling new students every day. To discuss a program or find out how you can apply or participate, please contact:
Touro University Worldwide (TUW)
TUW offers online Masters’ Degree Programs in Business (MBA), Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Media and Communications Psychology, and Marriage and Family Therapy. For program and enrollment information, visit: www.TUW.edu.
About the Touro College and University System
Touro is a system of non-profit institutions of higher and professional education that welcomes students of all cultures and backgrounds. Touro College was chartered in 1970 primarily to enrich the Jewish heritage, and to serve the larger American and global community. Approximately 19,000 students are currently enrolled in its various schools and divisions. Touro College has branch campuses, locations and instructional sites in the New York area, as well as branch campuses and programs in Berlin, Jerusalem, Moscow, Paris, and Florida. Touro University California and Nevada as well as Touro University Los Angeles and Touro University Worldwide are members of the Touro College and University System.