Time to go back to school?
“When the economy goes down, people go back to school,” said Chris Wall in a New York Times article released today. Wall is the vice Chairman for Ogilvy, the company behind the new advertising campaign for Kaplan University in the USA. But whilst record numbers of students enrol on courses stateside, and one of the biggest online universities starts to promote itself alongside I.B.M. and Dove, in the UK, the ins and outs of e-Learning remain illusive to most. Is it time to go back to school here too?
nThat the UK seems to have fallen behind the USA in the popularity and acceptance of online learning is quite shocking. In fact, the whole notion of a distance teaching university was born here when The Open University was established in 1969. The premise for the need of a ‘University of the Air’ was initiated by a forward thinking Labour government, under Harold Wilson, to offer higher education to people on a lower income. Interestingly, today it is the importance of financial awareness that is stimulating the investment in online education, and its promotion, in the US. And it seems that the UK could benefit from a fervent grasp of the mass-media by the e-Learning sector.
nFollowing the continual success of The Open University, in the last 10 years the UK has seen the adoption of e-Learning courses by many major Universities. In 1999 Liverpool began to offer a range of master’s degrees and continue to do so with a focus on the international and flexibility benefits of online study, above the positive socio-economic impacts of offering higher education in this way. By 2006, David Blunkett’s UK eUniversities had become a huge dotcom failure in an attempt to consolidate the UK’s online courses under one banner and in one place. Sadly, with the intention of harnessing online learning for the masses, this was seemingly the closest we have been to using our already well-established universities, and the foundations laid by The Open University.
nBut it is not all doom and gloom for online education in the UK. New online courses continue to spring up at universities all over the country. Additionally, the US’s beacon of e-Learning for all, Kaplan, has reached the UK also. In 2007 Kaplan Open Learning was established in affiliation with The University of Essex offering, alongside others, degree courses in Business and foundation courses in Criminal Justice – two subjects that have been rated in the US’s top 10 online degree courses for 2008 (according to eLearners.com). So it seems the UK has certainly got the tools, the courses, the facilities, and the need for online learning more than it ever has, but in order to keep up with the success of the US, we just need the promotion.
Posted Date: 2009-01-24 05:59:01