The UK’s Open University, which has broadcast with the BBC since the 1960s, now offers courses via the Internet, for instance, in human genetics and health issues for just £199 (www.open.ac.uk). Links form the learning materials, rather than just expensive textbooks, and studies fit busy schedules.
E-Learning in Tertiary Education offers an overview based on a survey carried out by CERI at 19 tertiary education institutions. Beyond distance learning, it examines how higher education schools adapt the Internet to different uses. And it warns that there are virtual kinks in the system to be ironed out, including non-performing sites and mixed public perceptions.
So, does e-learning actually work? The jury is still out. One UK study showed that while undergraduate-level e-courses produced similar grades to traditional studies, they had 5-10% lower completion rates. Yet the University of British Columbia reports some fully online courses that show 10-15% better attainment compared to the traditional version. Furthermore, Open University of Catalonia argues that employers like distance learning graduates for their knowledge of IT, consistency and hard work.
ISBN 9264009205. See the New Publications pages or www.oecdbookshop.org for ordering details.
©OECD Observer No 250, July 2005