The Future of Online Learning: To Be or Not to Be?

Dear Commons Community,

Our colleague, Brian Foote, recently commented that there has been a good deal of press especially in the NY Times regarding the future/potential/etc. of online learning.   The current issue of the Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks has several articles discussing this particular topic.   You have to be a member of the Sloan Consortium to access current editions.   Below Janet Moore, one of the editors of JALN, sent out a summary of this edition.  I have attached a copy of the article my colleagues, Jeff Seaman and  Elaine Allen, and I contributed entitled, Educational Transformation through Online Learning: To Be or Not to Be that was published in this edition.


“Dear Colleagues,

The latest Sloan Survey of Online Learning revealed nearly 30 percent of all college and university students now take at least one course online. As adoption of online learning continues to increase, issues related to scale, such as quality, access and acceptance, become paramount. In the latest issue of the Sloan Consortium’s (Sloan-C) scholarly periodical, Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks (JALN), experts describe the practice and potential of online education.

JALN Volume 14, Issue 4, begins with an article titled, “Why Online Education Will Attain Full Scale,” by John Sener, who reasons online education “will soon become a routine, commonplace, and integral part of the educational experience.”

In “Educational Transformation through Online Learning: To Be or Not to Be,” Anthony Picciano, Jeff Seaman and Elaine Allen use six years of data on K-20 online learning to explore transformation as it relates to the growth of online learning, institutional mission, student access, faculty acceptance, instructional quality, and student satisfaction. As online education scales, “issues regarding the quality of online learning and the level of effort required to develop and teach online courses continue to be of concern at all levels of education.”

Also in this issue, Kaye Shelton takes on quality assurance, presenting a “Quality Scorecard for the Administration of Online Education Programs,” drawn from the expertise of senior administrators. The scorecard rubric is an industry standard for evaluating, planning and reporting on the quality of online educational programs.

Among other highlights in this issue, Helga Dorner and Andrea Kárpáti show how “Mentoring for Innovation” enables novice teachers to benefit from expert know-how; Lana C. Jackson, Stephanie J. Jones, and Roy C. Rodriguez identify “Faculty Actions that Result in Student Satisfaction in Online Courses”; and in “Automating Expertise in Collaborative Learning Environments,” teams from Pearson Knowledge Technologies, theU.S. Air Force, European Office of Aerospace Research and Development, and theU.S. Army Research Institute used Latent Semantic Analysis, to significantly improve the effectiveness of collaboration.
JALN access is free to members and non members can purchase individual pdfs or print copies.

Janet C. Moore, Ph.D.

Chief Knowledge Officer”


  1. With education costs in some countries spiraling, here in Australia many universities are reaping the rewards of offering online learning to the rest of the world.
    Like Twitter, it’s here to stay – because it services a need.

    • Sam,

      Thanks for sharing what is going on in Australia. There is a fair amount of online learning going on here in the USA, about 6 million of the total of almost 20 million higher education students are taking at least one fully online course.