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Is Online Education Replacing On-Campus Education?

Updated 10/23/2023

In 2007 Canada saw the potential of using the internet for education. For people living in rural areas the internet reduces the distance and cost of education. In the 6 years between 2007 and 2013, the internet has changed education more than anyone could have possibly predicted. Education from one particular university can now impact the world through the internet. It begs the question whether online education is replacing on-campus education.

That’s not a simple question to answer. Just this year an entire book was published about the online education in the United States over the past 10 years. It is written Elaine Allen and Jeff Seamen and called Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States. According to their research, between the fall of 2002 and 2011 the percent of online enrollment (of total enrollment in Degree-granting post-secondary institutions) has increased from 9.6% to a whopping 32%. Everyone knows someone who’s taking at least one class online.

According to the same book, there are some definite obstacles for the growth of online education. These barriers help us see just how far we are from replacing on-campus education. These obstacles include concerns about:

1. Quality of Education: It is difficult to test the quality of education of an on-campus school and online institutions are even more difficult to monitor. Yet the number of people who think that online education is inferior or somewhat inferior to online learning has dropped by around 20% since 2002. Institutions seem to be constantly improving their quality of online education.

2. Learner Disposition: Anyone who has had some experience in teaching knows that not everyone learns the same way. Leading academics from the public and private institutions feel strongly that students need more of a discipline to complete an online course successfully. It can be argued that while students do need disciple to complete an online course, a learner who is internally motivated will find online education easy. The trouble is that it is difficult to find young students are internally motivated but older students who are seeking to be trained for a specific career are motivated. They are the ones that find the flexible online learning schedule ideal for their busy lives.

3. Lower Retention: The lower student retention rates of online learning are a risk that schools need to prepare for. For-profit schools are most concerned about retention rates. Many schools are trying to make their programs as easily available and short to accommodate an extremely flexible study schedule.

4. Employer Acceptance Hesitancy: Over the years this concern has remained critical to institutions and online students. Will the employer look at my online degree and prefer another candidate who has studied on-campus? The real test of online education is time. As employers begin to see

  • that students who have learned online are just as competent as their on-campus peers,
  • that online schools are sometimes even more difficult to graduate from and
  • that a student that is able to graduate online has shown a tenacity and willingness to work hard even when no one is looking, they will have to accept that online education is of equal value.

While these concerns about online education exist, online schools like Career Step offer training programs in Medical Transcription which is a growing field. Career Step also helps its students find work and 85% of Career Step graduates are employed in their field of study. The barriers for online education are already being crushed. If quality online education can be paired with a measure of practical training the face of learning change very quickly in the coming decades.



While it is difficult to tell if online education will replace on-campus education, it is easy to see that online education is booming. It’s interesting to take a look at some of the major obstacles for the growth of online learning and whether these obstacles are even possible to overcome.

Author Bio:

Tiara is a successful African-American medical transcriptionist who has been living in Canada with her husband for the past 6 years. Since her accident in 2010 she refused to be discouraged by her disability and continued to seek career options that allow her to work from home. She now heads a team of 5 medical transcriptionists and enjoys writing in her spare time. She believes there are always ways to contribute to your family’s income no matter what. Her hobbies include cooking, baking, knitting and spending quality time with her husband.