The popularity of obtaining a college degree online has grown over the last decade. While pursing courswork through online schools is a convenience, it is also a preferred method of learning for many. In fact, the National Center for Educational Statistics cited that the percentage of undergraduates enrolled in distance learning exploded from eight to 20 percent in the last decade - and the number continues to grow.
Opponents of online education believe that online learning is a much colder form of education and will never have the same impact on students as those who have a chance to experience college life and to learn in the classroom. Though online students lack physical connection with instructors and fellow students, because of modern technology - like webcams, chatrooms, online textbooks, and instant messaging - online learning can be very personal and interactive. Additionally, online professors are offering up their email addresses and phone numbers to their students so that they can contact them if they need to. This has added a much more individualized spin on online course learning, allowing both professor and student to get to know each other and their needs.
The level of satisfaction gained from taking online courses can vary, but probably the most obvious is the fact that those who learn online have much more freedom to work and live around their own personal schedules. Many students pursuing online degrees also have full or part-time jobs, and sometimes are parents. The freedom that comes with taking classes online is something that is definitely unmatched when taking in classroom courses. Distance learning gives people the freedom to be able to obtain college credit while doing so at their own pace and on their own time. This alone has been a big motivating factor in recent years for people looking to get the education they need while still having the time it requires to live a busy life.
There have been studies asking students how they feel about online courses versus attending the traditional brick-and-mortar school. A survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics asked students about the quality of instruction they received with online courses as compared to the instruction received in the classroom. About half of the students claimed that they were equally satisfied with both the online teaching and the teaching they received in the classroom. Overall, the survey points to the fact that the quality of online education offers students a feeling that they have accomplished their educational goals.