Students today are digital natives, and if we do not meet them where they are, in that digital space, we are going to lose them, says Mindy Hintze, upcoming keynote speaker for the Rutgers Online Learning Conference March 13, 2017.
“Online learning is here to stay,” she relates. Hintze speaks from experience; she completed her own master’s degree coursework entirely online, which allowed her to study anytime, anywhere, while still working and caring for her family.
Only 10 percent of students were enrolled in online learning in 2002, but that figure jumped to 30 percent by 2010, Hintze says. About 5.8 million students were enrolled in at least one distance learning course in fall 2014, according to Online Report Card: Tracking Online Education in the United States,´ in a report by Babson Survey Research Group.
As director of Product Engagement at Instructure, a technology company committed to improving education, Hintze is passionate about empowering students and teachers with educational technology.
Q. What is the role of online learning within education?
A. The role of online learning in education is critical for a few reasons. First, it meets the needs of nontraditional students who are already in the workplace. The role of mobile devices has changed their view of education. They are ready for access to learning anytime from anywhere. For some students, that means completing coursework after their children go to bed or working at eleven o’clock at night.
Next, it is critical for institutions to have online learning as far as cost saving, to keep tuition down and to continue to enlarge and grow. Students choose with their dollars, and right now they are choosing nontraditional educational paths.
Q: What is one takeaway for higher educators?
A. Students want content online and they want it delivered in a that makes sense. Some instructors put a PDF online and think they have now created an online learning experience. That is not what it is. We want to create a dynamic digital learning experience, and to get past the file repository concept.
Students are very engaged in the digital experience in their career in the workforce. They look to online learning that can solve real world problems and include gamification and simulation exercises. Gaming is among the least used components in online learning. Educators should create a rich dynamic learning experience in the online space.
Q: Are universities preparing for this?
A. More universities recognize if they do not develop strong online programs, they are going to lose enrollment. Online learning is not an add on. It should actively tie into the larger institutional goals. In addition, you should put in place measurable goals. Put a course online and measure students’ progress as they move through the curriculum. Today we can gather so much data that is readily available through online learning systems.
Universities are prepared; some are better prepared than others. But everyone is learning and no one wants to be left behind.
ABOUT THE CONFERENCE: Some of the nation’s top experts in online education and hybrid learning will share innovations and best practices at the Rutgers Online Learning Conference on March 13, 2017 at the Hilton Doubletree in Somerset, NJ. Registration is available at http://ruonlinecon.rutgers.edu.
Rutgers Online Learning Conference also features 35 speakers, 30 plus breakout sessions with colleges throughout the mid-Atlantic region, and a lineup of sponsors and exhibitors demonstrating instructional technologies. The conference will explore available and emerging technologies, use of learning management systems, ancillary software and sites, new instructional methods, assessments, audio/video elements, and faculty training and resources.