To maintain higher education opportunities, particular for low- and middle-income students, increased resources must be made available to students through financial aid programs to meet the higher tuitions. Proposed changes in federal support for financial aid programs will increase the financial burdens on low and middle-income students and will exacerbate the growing problem of inadequate access to post-secondary educational opportunities.These trends-declining per-student appropriations, rising tuition, and growth in the population of college age persons-have disturbing implications for the states. At the same time, the African American population as a percentage of the college-age population is rising rapidly. High school dropout rates are appalling. The African American students who are disproportionately poor and low-income, face significant financial barriers to attendance-another pressure for increased spending, not reduced. Once enrolled, these students are more likely to drop out for a wide variety of reasons, including financial reasons.The political economy of the higher education system points to ever rising costs of operation-cost creep, maybe even galloping cost creep. But the political economy of state and national governments points to static or falling public spending for higher education. Thus any list of “salami-tactic” cuts-close campuses, freeze salaries, or drop departments-would be nonstrategic and pointless. Instead, recommendations must seek structural change in the political economy of the higher education system. Reforms are needed to recast incentives, priorities and accountabilities to spur selfgenerated cost control and quality improvement.Five Principles For Better Value: Summary RecommendationsPrinciple 1. Target public subsidies directly to people who are financially needy. Under this proposal, need-based financial aid for low and middle-income students would be nearly tripled, thus providing access to higher education opportunities for more students.Principle 2. Use competition as a tool to align institutional self-interest with the public interest. The scheme proposed here would place most of the state education funds in the hands of students and would force the higher education institutions to compete by providing high quality education services that meet the needs of consumers. In addition, efficiency and innovation would be fostered through competition to meet performance objectives within the two systems.Principle 3. Allow prices of public services to reflect true costs, including the social costs of individual decisions. Tuitions would be allowed to rise to reflect instructional costs. These increases would be offset by the availability of increased state grants and lifetime learning grants appropriated to all students.Principle 4. Meet more public responsibilities through non-governmental communities in which people already have relationships with mutual obligation. The proposed system would include an extensive information, education and outreach effort, in partnership with communities that have the trust of low-income students and African American students.Principle 5. Consider long-term economic growth to be one of the objectives of state spending. The renewed commitment to producing well-educated post secondary graduates to lifetime learning, and to funding necessary research will maintain and vitalize the economy.Long-Term Recommendations1. Each state should establish incentives for students and their families to save more for higher education. For example, a Learning Savings Account could be established for each student, the earnings from which would be free from state tax. These savings accounts could match the Lifetime Learning Grants appropriated by the state. The existence of such a savings account for a student would not count against the student’s eligibility for financial aid. Since the objective of the learning savings accounts would be to provide educational opportunities for the students, the proceeds could be used at any higher education institution, inside or outside of the state.2. A substantial portion of the funds appropriated to institutions should be distributed on the basis of performance on state policy goals. By putting a percent of total funding into the hands of students, our proposal builds in a process for prodding institutions to provide the outcomes that individual students seek. Another form of accountability is needed to track performance on those outcomes that pertain to the interests of the state as a whole. Ultimately, Legislators and other policymakers must be able to answer the question: Is higher education delivering the outcomes that state seeks to “purchase” through its legislative appropriation? To answer the question, policymakers must define what outcomes they expect the higher education system to produce. Then, the state will need a robust set of outcome measures that gauge the effectiveness of institutions in delivering the outcomes. It is important that the focus be on outcomes (for example, skill levels of students completing programs) and no on inputs (qualifications of entering students) or process measures (student/faculty ratios). The sensitive task of composing and defining an initial set of outcome measures should be addressed soon. Such measures should be shaped by professional educators, but also by a broad spectrum of higher education users and anticipated users. Especially solicited for their views should be citizens from sectors with relatively few post-high school students in the past, but with increasing numbers expected in the future. Among such sections are communities of new immigrants, young adults from low-income families, older adults with needs and wants in “lifetime learning” and citizens without English as their native language or America as their mother culture.3. All of the principals in the higher education enterprise should be accountable for performing their respective responsibilities. The governing boards should be empowered to govern the systems; administrators should have the authority to effectively operate campuses; and faculty members should be free to provide quality learning opportunities for students. All faculty contracts should be related to the performance indicators and policy purposes identified by the Legislature making the appropriations. A system of merit increases should be reinstated to recognize individual and team excellence in delivering higher education services.ConclusionThese recommendations, while controversial, would ultimately lead to improved learning opportunities for students and improve efficiencies and cost-effectiveness for the higher education systems, which ultimately would enable each state to provide its residents with more and better higher education services at lower cost.
On-campus education vs. online education! Is one better than the other? Can one completely replace the other? Indeed it seems that online education is the way of the future. Educational institutions, corporations and government organizations alike already offer various forms of electronic teaching. However, can a computer truly replace a teacher and a blackboard?How people learnEach individual has a form of learning that suits them best. Some individuals achieve fantastic results in courses taught online, however most people drop out of 100% computer-led courses. Educational institutions, as well as companies in carrying out staff training, must recognize that there is no ideal way to carry out the teaching of a large group of individuals, and so must design programs that best suits the needs of the group as a whole.People learn using multiple senses. This involves learning through both theoretical components of a course, as well as social interaction with both instructors and other students. Students learn from each other’s mistakes and successes, not just from what they are told by instructors.Each individual student has an ideal learning pace. Instructors are therefore faced with the challenge of designing courses that move forward such that those students with a slower learning pace do not get left behind, while not moving so slowly that students with faster learning paces get bored.Online educationIn the age of high-speed information transfer, online education is becoming a popular and cheap means for delivering teaching to individuals outside the classroom, and in some cases all over the world. Teaching can be via CD, websites, or through real-time online facilities such as webcasts, webinars and virtual classrooms. However, different methods of online education each have their own advantages and disadvantages.Online education is still a relatively new concept, and in many respects still in the teething stages. As such, various problems arrive across different online education environments. For example:1. Lack of immediate feedback in asynchronous learning environments: While some online education environments such as webcasts, webinars and virtual classrooms operate live with the addition of an instructor, most do not. Teaching that is delivered through a CD or website, although having the advantage of being self-paced, provides no immediate feedback from a live instructor.2. More preparation required on the part of the instructor: In an online education environment, an instructor can not simply stand in front of a whiteboard and deliver a class. Lessons in online education environments must be prepared ahead of time, along with any notes and instructions that may accompany the teaching.In many cases it would also be necessary that the instructor not only understands the concepts being taught, but the technology used to deliver that teaching. This therefore increases the skill-levels needed of online education instructors, placing greater demand on educational institutions.Staffing levels may also be higher for courses run in an online education environment, requiring for example:The Instructor – able to teach both course content and be skilled in the use of technologies involvedThe Facilitator – to assist the instructor in delivering content, but may do so remotelyHelp Desk – to offer assistance to instructors, facilitators and students in the use of both software and hardware used to deliver the course.3. Not all people are comfortable with online education: Education is no longer only sought by the world’s youth. With an increased trend towards adult and continuing education, there is a need to design courses suitable for students over a larger age-range, as well as students from different and varied backgrounds. It is difficult, however, to design online education environments suitable for everyone.4. Increased potential for frustration, anxiety and confusion: In an online education environment, there are a greater number of parts making up the system that can fail. Server failures may prevent online courses from operating. Software based teaching applications may require other specific components to operate. Computer viruses may infect software necessary to run online education environments. If these systems are complex, students may choose the ease of On-campus education rather than taking the additional time and effort necessary to master the use of online education systems.5. The Digital Divide: Many people who live in remote areas and developing countries do not have access to computers, making any form of online education virtually impossible. For this reason, online education is only able to be targeted at the people lucky enough to be able to take advantage of the technology involved. Similarly, offering live teaching across the world means that different time zones and nationalities increase the demand for multi-skilled instructors.In addition to these, there are also several legal issues associated with maintaining an online education environment. For example, intellectual property laws, particularly those relating to copyright, may or may not fully cover electronically created intellectual property. For example, information on a website is not necessarily considered to be public domain, despite being available to everyone. However, the Australian Copyright Act was amended in 2001 to ensure that copyright owners of electronic materials, including online education environments, could continue to provide their works commercially.On-Campus EducationStill the most common form of instruction is traditional classroom-style learning. These instructor-led environments are more personal than online education environments, and also have the advantage of allowing for immediate feedback both to and from student and teachers alike. However, the classroom allows for less flexibility than courses run in online education environments.Instructors in modern classroom environments are still able to take advantage of several forms of electronic teaching tools while still maintaining the atmosphere associated with the traditional classroom environment. For example, PowerPoint slides can be utilized instead of a whiteboard or blackboard. Handouts can be distributed via course websites prior to the event. However, on the day, students are still able to actively participate in the lesson.Like online education environments, On-campus education comes with certain drawbacks, the most common of which is the classroom itself. This requires a group of people which, in a university for example, could reach a few hundred people in size, to gather in the same place at the same time. This requires enormous time and financial commitment on behalf of both the students and the educational institution.However, it is this sort of environment that is most familiar to students across the world. People of all ages can access a classroom environment feeling comfortable with the way that a classroom-run course is carried out. Older students who may not be comfortable with the use of information technology are not required to navigate their way through possibly complex online education environments, making On-campus education the most accessible form of teaching.On-campus education has one advantage that 100% electronically delivered courses can not offer – social interaction. Learning comes from observing, not only what is written on a page or presented in a slideshow, but what is observed in others. Most students are naturally curious, and so will want to ask questions of their instructors. The classroom environment allows students to clarify what is being taught not only with their instructors, but with other students.So, Which is Better?There is no style of instruction that will best suit every student. Studies have shown (Can online education replace On-campus education) that courses where online education is used to complement On-campus education have proved more effective than courses delivered entirely using only one method. These courses take advantage of both online education materials and a live instructor, and have produced results higher than those of students in either 100% online education or classroom environment courses. Students have the advantage of the immediate feedback and social interaction that comes with the classroom environment, as well as the convenience of self-paced online education modules that can be undertaken when it best suits the student.It would seem that online education environments will never completely replace On-campus education. There is no “one size fits all” method of teaching. Teaching styles will continue to adapt to find the method that best fits the learning group. Using a mix of online education environments and classroom sessions, educational institutions, corporations and government organizations can ensure that training is delivered that is convenient and effective for both instructors and students alike.