I'm a student assistant on campus at the School of Extended Education where we offer online and web conferencing classes. The programs we offer gives students, specifically non-traditional students, the opportunity to complete a degree or licensure through our University... all online. Now, this is my third year working here and this semester, by far, has been our busiest yet.
Over 900 registrations came through alone for our graduate level classes and undergraduate classes share the same popularity. Although it's extremely busy, I'm happy to see that students are taking advantage of these resources and completing their courses and degrees at a faster rate, but what took them so long? Why all of sudden are online classes so popular? Are people more trustworthy of technology? Are more people finally comfortable with using computers? I don't know...
One thing I do know is our society is so busy and so on the go, that this type of education fits a majority of our lifestyles perfectly. It allows us to complete a course, or more, at our own pace, without leaving our homes. What more could you ask for?
I recently registered for an online course myself because I needed the extra credit hours for graduation. I scheduled to complete the online class before my on campus schedule became too rigorous. I ended up completing the course in about 5 days. Now, that's not the typical time frame for completing an online course, but that's the type of flexibility they offer. If you need the credits quick you have that option of completing the requirements as fast as you would like to.
Online classes are definitely on the rise and I think their popularity will continue to grow. But...will online classes begin to compete with traditional education? I don't know. But I really think combining the two create a unique academic experience.