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The Internet Will Not Replace Us

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

COED: Online and Blended Learning Part 2

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

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Paper Authors


Michelle E. Jarvie-Eggart Michigan Technological University

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Dr. Jarvie-Eggart is a registered professional engineer with over a decade of experience as an environmental engineer. She lectures in the Engineering Fundamentals department at Michigan Technological University. Her research interests include online learning, active and collaborative learning, sustainability and diversity in engineering.

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Amber Kemppainen Michigan Technological University

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Ms. Kemppainen is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Engineering Fundamentals. Her research interests include the improvement of STEM education, ethics, and online/blended learning methods.

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Thomas M. Freeman M.Ed. Michigan Technological University

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Tom Freeman
Sr. Instructional Designer and Online Learning Specialist - Michigan Technological University

Thom Freeman provides faculty and academic departments at Michigan Technological University with Instructional Design services, LMS Support, and assistance with the design, development, and administration of distance learning programs and online learning.
M. Ed. - Education and Human Development - The George Washington University

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The Internet Will Not Replace Us

This paper examines the trends in online programs and enrollment to support the argument that online programs greatest growth potential is for place bound students looking to continue their education (working professionals). The authors also survey the literature to explain the reasons why students choose online versus face-to-face education, concluding that the motivations for online learning are unique and pose no threat to long term sustenance of physical universities.

Recent studies have shown a rise in online higher education. In a series of studies by Allen and Seaman, overall institutional enrollment was found to increase on average by 2.5% per year. (Allen & Seaman, 2014) During this same time period (2002 - 2012), online enrollment increased on average by 16.1% per year demonstrating that online methods of education are growing at a feaster pace than traditional face-to-face education. (Allen & Seaman, 2014) While distance enrollments showed less of an increase during 2013 and 2014 (6.1% and 7% respectively), the trend is still toward increasing distance education enrollment (Allen & Seaman, 2015; Allen & Seaman, 2016). By 2014, the majority of both public and private institutions have online course offerings with approximately two-thirds of higher education students having taken at least one online class. (Allen & Seaman, 2016).

Research indicates that the reasons students choose to take courses via online learning has consistently been attributable to the following motivating factors (Kowalski, et al, 2014):

Necessity (including geographical distance from a face to face alternative (Dutton, et al, 2002), demands of work and family life (Jaggers, 2014), and no face-to-face offering available that fits their current needs (Fox, 2017) (Jarvie-Eggart, 2017) Convenience and Flexibility (Kowalski, et al, 2014) (including the ability to schedule course work around the demands of work and family life (Noel-Levitz, Inc., 2014), the ability to pursue a degree while working full time, and no need to commute to campus and the difficulty and expense that incurs [Hannons, et al, 2017]) (Jarvie-Eggart, 2017)

Although a 2012 national survey revealed that the top reasons first year college students choose to attend college is to get a better job and make more money (Pryor et al, 2012), data from the past year showed that students were increasingly attending college to pursue interests and ideas (Eagan et. Al., 2017). When it comes to actually selecting a school, campus visits play an increasing role in the selection process for first year students (Eagan et. Al., 2017). Not only can first year students not visit online schools in person, they are not mentioned in most selection processes as an alternative. Although small populations of undergraduates may need online education (due to being place bound by military service or life stage), traditional undergraduates students may not to have the geographic and time restrictions (work and families) which attract students to online programs.

References: Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. Grade change. Tracking Online Education in the United States. Babson Survey Research Group and Quahog Research Group, LLC. 2014. [Online]. Available: [Accessed Oct. 10, 2017]

Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. Grade level. Tracking Online Education in the United States. 2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed Oct. 10, 2017]

Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. Online Report Card: Tracking Online Education in the United States. Babson Survey Research Group. 2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed Oct. 10, 2017]

Clinefelter, D. L. & Aslanian, C. B. Online college students 2016: Comprehensive data on demands and preferences. Louisville, KY. July 2016. The Learning House, Inc. 2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed Oct. 10, 2017]

Dutton, J, Dutton, M, and Perry, J. “How do online students differ from lecture students?”. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks,Volume 6, Issue 1 – July 2002. [Online]. Available: [Accessed Oct. 10, 2017]

Eagen, M.K., Stolzenberg, E.B., Zimmerman, H.B., Aragon, M.C., Whang Sayson, H., and Rios-Aguilar C. The American Freshman: National norms fall 2016. Los Angeles: Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA. 2017

Fox, Heather L. What Motivates Community College Students to Enroll Online and Why It Matters. Insights on Equity and Outcomes. Issue 19. January, 2017. Office of Community College Research and Leadership.[Online]. Available: [Accessed Oct. 10, 2017]

Jaime Hannans, Jill Leafstedt, and Michelle Pacansky-Brock. The Power of Choice: Why Online Classes Matter to Students. EdSurge, July 2017. [Online]. Available: [Accessed Oct. 10, 2017]

Jaggars, S. Choosing between online and face-to- face courses: Community college student voices. American Journal of Distance Education, 28(1), 27-38, 2014 .[Online]. Available: Student-Voices.pdf [Accessed Oct. 10, 2017]

Jarvie, Eggart, M. “What Students Value about Education and Recommendations for Online Education.” Journal of Online Engineering Education. Vol 8., No. 1., Article 1. 2017. [Online]. Available: [Accessed Oct. 10, 2017]

Kowalski, Theodore J., Dolph, David Alan, and Young, Ila Phillip, "Student Motives for Taking Online Courses in Educational Administration" (2014). Educational Research Quarterly, Vol. 38, No. 1. pp. 27 - 42. September, 2014. Retrieved from: Educational Leadership Faculty Publications. Paper 35.[Online]. Available: [Accessed Oct. 10, 2017]

Noel-Levitz. 2014-15 National Online Learners Priorities Report. Coralville, IA: Noel-Levitz. 2014. [Online]. Available:[Accessed Oct. 10, 2017]

Pryor, J.H., Eagan, K., Palucki Blake, L., Hurtado, S., Berdan, J., and Case M. H. The American Freshman: National norms fall 2012. Los Angeles: Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA. 2012.

Jarvie-Eggart, M. E., & Kemppainen, A., & Freeman, T. M. (2018, June), The Internet Will Not Replace Us Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31118

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