Mention online learning in higher education and the conversation quickly turns to the explosion of Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, and the opportunities for delivering quality education to the greatest number of students. Indeed, online learning is increasingly becoming a permanent fixture in higher education. But the nation’s public higher education system–the two-year colleges and four-year universities that educate the large majority of all college students–has been visibly slower to embrace the potential of online education. Many of these institutions were founded with a mission to serve their citizens, including those unable to attend in residence. Yet even as the technological means to achieve this goal reaches new heights, many public universities are shying away from the challenge.
State U Online examines the history of distance learning dating back to the 18th century when the U.S. Postal Service served as the primary platform for administering distance education (See advertisement below for correspondence shorthand course). As the need for distance education increased, so did the innovative ways in which it was administered. State U Online identifies the most common challenges to implementing successful distance-education programs, including cost, quality, and faculty buy-in.