Online education is on the rise at Northwest Arkansas Community College, with an increasing number of students opting for online classes. Currently, 47% of the college’s total enrollment, which is around 4,092 students, are taking at least one online class this semester. This marks a 9% increase from last fall and a significant 32% increase from three years ago.
The popularity of online classes is affecting the college’s future plans and spending priorities. The college is considering the possibility of building a dormitory on campus, but President Evelyn Jorgenson is cautious about this decision. She believes that the rising popularity of online classes must be taken into account when considering new facilities.
Kate Burkes, the associate dean of distance learning and faculty development, believes that the online sector will continue to grow. She mentioned that predictions suggest that nationally, 75% of all college classes will be online by 2035. This growth is influenced by the increasing acceptance and ease of navigation for Generation Z, who are now entering college.
One student, Joshua Mendez, 22, from Fayetteville, has taken a mix of online and traditional classes at the community college. He finds online classes to be “fantastic” and appreciates the flexibility they offer, especially since he works a full-time job. Online classes allow him to learn at his own pace and fit his studies around his busy schedule.
Flexibility is the main reason why students choose online classes at Northwest Arkansas Community College. Many students have other responsibilities such as jobs and childcare, and online classes allow them to balance these commitments with their education.
It’s worth mentioning that online classes at the college have the same faculty, small class sizes, course objectives, curriculum, and assessments as traditional classes. The college emphasizes the importance of maintaining a high level of interaction with students, ensuring that the quality of instruction is consistent across all types of classes.
Online education is not only growing at Northwest Arkansas Community College but also at the University of Arkansas. The number of undergraduate and graduate students taking at least one online course at the university has nearly doubled in the past six years.
While online classes may not be suitable for everyone, the flexibility they offer benefits both students and instructors. However, there are challenges that come with the growth of online education, such as ensuring that all services, like advising, are accessible remotely and meeting the needs of students with disabilities. The college is also looking into incorporating more video content into their courses to keep up with the digital age.
Overall, online education is becoming an integral part of the college experience at Northwest Arkansas Community College. It provides flexibility for students with various responsibilities and allows them to pursue their education at their own pace. As the popularity of online classes continues to grow, the college is adapting to meet the changing needs of its students.