The UNC system is taking initiative to improve access to online education.
The system has made changes to its website to allow users to learn about the online programs offered through the system, including the comparison of programs and cost.
The UNC system’s interest in improving its online education is a welcome and overdue development.
According to a report commissioned by the UNC system in December 2012, North Carolina has fallen behind many states in the region for online enrollment.
Online education offers a number of benefits for students and the system.
Access to education is a primary reason for incorporating online courses into a larger education strategy. Those people who might encounter numerous barriers to higher education, from ability to physically attend classes to financial obstacles, can look to online courses as a means of furthering their educations.
Part of the reason for emphasizing online education is to help with the system’s five-year plan of increasing the percentage of graduates from 26 to 32.
The issue of quality, however, is an even more crucial reason the UNC system needs to work to increase online course availability.
A 2010 Education Department review of more than 1,000 studies on aspects of online learning written between 1996 and 2008 reveal online learning can be a useful educational component.
The best method involved a combination of online and traditional teaching methods, but online education on its own can be just as effective as the traditional classroom.
Even more than the generic upside to online education is the specific benefit of having the UNC system take part in it.
Increasingly, questionable for-profit colleges are using online courses to appeal to individuals who might have trouble accessing education through the more traditional route.
Having an established, respected educational system like UNC that gives students the ability to access high quality makes things better for students.
The benefits of online education are so great that it must be a priority for the UNC system. It is good to see we are taking steps in a positive direction.
Griffin, a junior journalism major from Madison, is an opinion writer.