Liberal arts colleges 'experimenting with e-learning'
Online learning courses are beginning to make an impact in liberal arts colleges across the US, an education reporter has said.
Writing for Inside Higher Ed, Steve Kolowich noted a number of "top-rated" institutions of this type have begun to investigate e-learning.
Traditional universities are familiar with this innovation, he stated, pointing out academia in these buildings was previously imparted through the hosting of lectures in large halls, with this education method easily transferring to the internet.
Conversely, the expert explained liberal arts colleges usually had the appeal of "small classes and regular face-time with professors".
These instructors are now examining online training courses that educate students in concepts by using "artificially intelligent tutoring software" in lieu of human lecturers or static textbooks, Mr Kolowich declared.
Educators are being provided with greater levels of flexibility when working out the course syllabus and learners who are "academically unprepared" are being supported through increasing use of virtual learning environments, he said.
Some of the best liberal arts colleges in the US, such as Wesleyan and Bryn Mawr, strive to provide opportunities to individuals from deprived backgrounds and aim to provide these people with admission "without setting them up for failure", the specialist continued.
Bryn Mawr claims to give its students control over their education, taking advantage of academic opportunities in laboratories and classrooms, as well as across disciplines.
Furthermore, it has eight students for every member of faculty and offers 36 major courses, 38 minors and eight concentrations to its attendees.
Mr Kolowich explained this institution has also begun to experiment in the potential of online learning.
It has found the tool does not merely provide efficient education to students and enable them to pass a course, but can offer a "blended model of online and classroom learning", he argued.
Using online training in this manner "could reinforce liberal arts colleges' hands-on teaching ethos, rather than subvert it", the specialist remarked.
03 July 2012