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UC Reports Distance Learning On the Rise

More proof that a thirst for a college education (in particular, distance learning) isn't shrinking in the face of economic downturn: the University of Cincinnati's online program has just reported an enrollment increase of 15% from last year's numbers. These rising numbers are generating interest in not just the college, but the further potential of distance learning on the whole as a viable education alternative that fits many of this generation's changing needs.

Distance learning is becoming an integral part of the university's approach to meeting the diverse educational needs of its students, possibly because Americans in general are using the Internet more in their everyday lives.

In 2003, nearly 25 percent of Americans used the Internet for more than an hour a day, according to a poll conducted by Gallup. In 2009, the number hovers just under 50 percent.
The demographics for those who are more prone to use the Internet for at least an hour per day include relatively affluent, educated young people, according to the Gallup poll.

Many students seem to prefer online classes, according to Melody Clark, academic director of the Office of Distance Education, who has both taken and taught distance-learning classes. "Online students reported being more satisfied with their educational experience than regular or hybrid students," Clark said. Hybrid students are those who take classes in both traditional and online classrooms.

Online education is a very polarizing issue these days, and some still voice their dissension to its value and merit.

Despite the growing prevalence of these courses, not everyone thinks that they are the best way for students to learn.

"I took one and kind of had a bad experience," said Spencer Young, a second-year geology student. "It's a lot better actually going to a class and being able to talk to someone. You can still learn [in an online course]; it��s just not as good."

However, the overall feedback regarding online courses has been overwhelmingly positive and growing every day, prompting UC to take a look at its own programs and how to expand. At the moment, administrators are aiming to add many more arts and science degrees, and even a nursing program, to its online roster. Will other colleges be following suit? If Cincinnati's success is any indication, they should be soon.

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