It is possible to educate more students by teaching online than it is by traditional face-to-face classroom teaching.
Right now, not all potential online students have access to the Internet from home or access to computers with which to take online courses. In many areas, the dial up access to the nearest Internet Service Provider is a toll call and, in addition, there is the monthly cost of the ISP service. However, more and more areas of the country have at least one ISP, and there are free ISPs that can be accessed in many areas if one does not mind commercials. As broadband service increases around the country, only the most populous areas have service initially, and the cost is prohibitive for many people. However, the cost will come down as competition increases and eventually it will be possible for students working from home to benefit from the most up to date methods for providing education, including streaming video. Public computer sites in libraries and college computer labs can play a role in providing access for some students. However, if the numbers of online students increase sufficiently, public sites will not satisfy the demand.
Because of the communicative nature of online courses, they usually have fewer students per course than do traditional face-to-face courses. Some faculty members teach larger numbers of students online by using undergraduate or gradute student assistants to help facilitate. The assistants play a variety of roles including helping with technical questions, clearing up misunderstandings in assignments or actually participating in the dialog about content with students. Other faculty members can accommodate larger numbers of students by limiting the number of assignments that require communication with individual students. They may also have students work in groups, and the faculty member can communicate with the group instead of individual students.
Not every student who participates in higher education will do so using a computer from home. There is a need to socialize young people on a college campus, and even if the number of students taking online courses increases, traditional methods of teaching will continue to thrive on the campus.
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