Andy Steele lives just a few blocks from the campus of Black Hills State University in Spearfish, S.D., so commuting to class isn’t the problem. But he doesn’t like lectures much, isn’t a morning person, and wants time during the day to restore motorcycles.
So Steele, a full-time senior business major, has been taking as many classes as he can from the South Dakota state system’s online offerings. He gets better grades and learns more, he says, and insists he isn’t missing out on the college experience.
“I still know a lot of people from my first two years living on campus, and I still meet a lot of people,” he says. But now, he sets his own schedule.
At least 2.3 million people took some kind of online course in 2004, according to a recent survey by The Sloan Consortium, an online education group, and two-thirds of colleges offering “face-to-face” courses also offer online ones. But what were once two distinct types of classes are looking more and more alike – and often dipping into the same pool of students.