Supply vs. Demand in e-Learning

I was reading this interview with Susan Patrick, from INACOL, about trends in e-learning – which is always an interesting subject for me seeing as I’m so ingrained in it. A few interesting pieces of information came up during the ten page interview (and I despise the paging on this – I’d rather scroll more than change pages)…

On the second page the pull quote suggests that 40% of students would be interested in taking an online course, but only 10% would be able to, leading to a supply/demand problem. While I hope that the interest percentage is that high, I suspect that number may be inflated somewhat. Working on the premise that it is correct, higher education is going to have to address this need when these students, who are now in the elementary (K-12) system graduate to higher education. Otherwise, they’ll be likely to look elsewhere for their education.

The third page of the interview expands on the idea of accreditation, this time for the teachers and suggests there needs to be standards, or rather a cross-border acceptance of a teachers qualifications. How will a teacher in one part of the U.S. be “qualified” to teach elsewhere? Is a Mexican teacher of the same “quality” as a Canadian one? The answer is of course they are, but not everyone is as open-minded as you and I. This sort of international standard could be abused in a discriminatory way.

On page five, Susan begins to discuss how the U.S. is falling behind on broadband adoption and the effects of lack of broadband access for remote students is a barrier to excellent e-learning opportunities. I essentially agree with the idea, although I don’t know that broadband adoption is that important. Mobile broadband access is probably more crucial for the upcoming five years – and the fact that the U.S. is falling far behind other countries (and Canada even more behind than the U.S.). It’s a certain sign that innovation and desire to adopt new technologies is lagging in North America.

It was interesting to read about the K-12 scene because it informs me about what we’re going to see in higher education in a little bit. Sounds exciting.

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