Here is a report that states distance learning students are highly engaged – often more so than their traditional counterparts, one on the state of academic libraries in 2004, and an article on the use of satellites to bring broadband Internet service to rural areas. Although it doesn’t directly pertain to distance learning, the government affairs office at the American Association of Community Colleges has provided an analysis on how the new Congress could affect community colleges. Chris.
National Survey of Student Engagement
Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research, Nov. 13, 2006
Also see the article in Inside Higher Ed by Elizabeth Redden, “The Engaged E-Learner,” and the report in the Chronicle of Higher Ed by Paula Wasley, “Underrepresented Students Benefit Most From ‘Engagement’: Annual survey of involvement in college life also finds high levels of interaction between distance learners and faculty members.” (requires subscription).
Here are the excerpts from the report that relate to distance learning. Chris.
Compared with campus-based students, distance education learners reported higher levels of academic challenge, engaged more often in deep learning activities, and reported greater developmental gains from college.
Distance Education Students
The 2006 NSSE Web survey asked students to indicate if they were taking all their courses online during the current academic term. Almost 4,000 respondents from 367 different colleges and universities identified themselves as distance education learners – 1,279 first-year students and 2,615 seniors.
The characteristics of distance education students differed from their counterparts in notable ways. For example:
Seventy percent of distance education students were caring for dependents.
Half of distance education students worked at jobs more than 30 hours per week (Figure 2).
Half of distance education students were enrolled part-time compared with only 10 percent of other students.
Distance education students were older on average: The median age of first-year distance learners was 25 and of seniors was 32. Their counterparts were 18 and 22 years, respectively.
Sixty-three percent of distance education students were first generation compared with 42 percent of other students.
Distance education students generally chose this format for reasons of convenience and being able to work at their own pace (Figure 3).
Engagement of distance education learners compared favorably to that of students taking classes on campus (Table 3). While distance education students are comparable to other students in terms of academic activities, they were much less likely to participate in active and collaborative learning activities. Even so, distance education students report greater educational gains and are more satisfied overall with their college experience. These mixed results illustrate that the educational and personal needs of distance education students may differ from those of other students.
The 2006 report from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) is based on information from about 260,000 randomly selected first-year and senior students at 523 four-year colleges and universities. The NSSE study, titled “Engaged Learning: Fostering Success of All Students,” gives schools an idea of how well students are learning and what they put into and get out of their undergraduate experience. The survey findings annually provide comparative standards for determining how effectively colleges are contributing to learning. Five key areas of educational performance are measured: 1) level of academic challenge, 2) active and collaborative learning, 3) student-faculty interaction, 4) enriching educational experiences, and 5) supportive campus environment.
Academic Libraries: 2004
National Center for Education Statistics
Web release Nov. 14, 2006
Based on the 2004 Academic Libraries Survey, NCES has just released this report which summarize services, staff, collections, and expenditures of academic libraries in degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report includes a number of key findings: During fiscal year (FY) 2004, there were 155.1 million circulation transactions from academic libraries’ general collection. During a typical week in the fall of 2004, 1.4 million academic library reference transactions were conducted, including computer searches. The nation’s 3,700 academic libraries held 982.6 million books; serial backfiles; and other paper materials, including government documents at the end of FY 2004. Academic libraries spent $2.2 billion on information resources during FY 2004.
With a Dish, Broadband Goes Rural
by Ken Belson
New York Times, Nov. 14, 2006
The town of Rindge, N.H., is just 70 miles from Boston, but to telephone and cable companies it might as well be at the end of the earth. Many of the town’s 5,500 residents cannot get broadband Internet access from the providers in the area, Verizon and Pine Tree Cable, even though communities nearby have had the service for years.
Craig Clark, who works from home in Rindge, made do with a sluggish dial-up line until he signed up for broadband service from the satellite provider WildBlue Communications last autumn. With a 26-inch dish outside his home and a modem inside, Mr. Clark now connects to the Internet at speeds similar to those offered by the phone company.
“It’s not a perfect technology, but it is one of the best options for those of us in rural areas,” he said.