More college students taking online classes

Some concerned students won't gett the full college experience


Annabelle Loudon's dorm room is also a classroom.  Although she attends a traditional university, she's also taking some of her courses online.

"We'd have a reading assignment and then every week you'd have a quiz or a test. So you could work on your own time during the week, which was great for me," she said.

Online education is fast becoming the norm across the United States, with 35 percent of students now taking at least one course online.  And, 65 percent of colleges consider online learning as a critical part of their future.

"In the last three to five years, the number of schools that are offering online degrees has exploded," explained Vicky Phillips, founder of GetEducated.com.

Phillips says the institutions that offer them may surprise you.

"Eighty-five percent of all online degrees are offered by traditional, residential schools. This includes state universities, large public brand names, ivy league schools," she said.

Experts say online classes have distinct advantages including flexibility, more choices of courses and teachers, and, of course, affordability.

"There's a crisis right now in being able to afford even a first primary college degree. Online learning is a tremendous help to consumers in that regard," said Phillips.

So should we expect to say 'see ya' to the traditional campus experience in the future?   Some say that's where we're headed, and that has some educators concerned.  They believe virtual learning falls short of a full college experience.

"If you ask most students what they remember about their college experience, most remember interpersonal interactions they've had, they remember the social experiences. They remember the ways in which they've grown as a person. That's much harder to do in an entirely online experience," explained Kevin Kruger, President and CEO of NASPA,, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Kruger believes a hybrid experience may be best.

"The faculty member has some portion of the class that will be live. But they also offer many components of the class in an online environment." he said.

Annabelle Loudon enjoyed some of her online classes, but wouldn't have wanted the entire experience to be virtual.

"I like showing up to class, I like being around other students, and having people to talk to about the class. I think that's nice," she said.

While the ultimate future of brick and mortar institutions is still unknown, experts agree the large lecture halls with 300 or more students may soon be a thing of the past.  Experts say those classes are already being replaced by online learning taught by faculty from institutions around the world.