Online Education — Implications for Higher Education in Emergency Management

Online education and Financial Aid

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This is a continuation of the discussion I started two days ago about the declining state of higher education in emergency management. One contributor, but not the only one, is the aggressive marketing of the for-profit, online educational institutions. This posting adds some details about that community.

Clearly the state of higher education in EM is a “hot button” for a lot of people —  I got more comments on the last posting than on any other topic to date.

Online Education (a $34B dollar operation) is definitely a phenomenon to be acknowledged, both as a market force and as a fast-growing component of our higher education system. And it surely has both positive and negative implications for those of us concerned with Higher Education in Emergency Management. This “infographic,” which was produced by the online education industry’s national association, provides some interesting numbers. This interest group is capable of some slick and powerful publicity/lobbying efforts.

Here is an example of a recent pitch: How Online Education Is Changing the Way We Learn.

Note their claim that by 2019 about 50% of all classes will be taught online.

Personally, I am quite worried about the trend.  After all, our doctors and lawyers are not being trained online — at least yet.  Do we really want emergency managers, who may have to make  critical decisions, to be trained remotely?  The essential question is:  do we consider emergency management a profession or a trade?

Also, many of those who like the online learning mode are clearly deficient in writing skills.  Just take a look at some of the comments that follow the article cited above and it’s quite  clear that the short comments are riddled with basic grammatical errors. I can only imagine what a full-length paper would look like.  Sadly, many students do not know what they do not know.

Finally, I want to give a plea for renewed emphasis on the essential skills of critical thinking and effective writing.  This is addressed to both classroom and distance instructors.