Online Learning Update

December 31, 2014

Online Learning Holds Promise, Challenges for Low-Income Students

Filed under: Online Learning News — Ray Schroeder @ 12:02 am

by Jordan Friedman, US News

For low-income students, formal online learning holds promise. They can work around their own schedule, even if they have a full-time job. Distance from a reasonably priced school isn’t an issue either, and students can save money on transportation and living expenses. “You can find affordable programs at different universities in different disciplines,” says Javier Reyes, vice provost for distance education at the University of Arkansas. Some financially disadvantaged learners have lesser access to certain technologies that online courses require. This can “limit their interacting with the instructor and the materials, which could be a substantial obstacle,” Xu says. Xu says the self-directed nature of online courses could also make distance learning a bit more challenging for lower income students. In her research, she found that “online learning, although associated with more flexibility, also asks students to assume a higher degree of responsibility,” she says. Students from disadvantaged groups usually have a “lower level of self-directed learning skills” than other students, she adds.

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