With the rise of online education, cost is often mentioned as one of the prime motivations to switch from a traditional classroom setting to an online environment. There are, however, numerous costs that come in to play in order for online science education to run smoothly. Being aware of some of the most commonly overlooked costs can help administrators determine how online science education will affect their institution’s profitability.
When comparing the cost of an online science education versus a traditional one, we can easily spot several major differences. The first and most obvious is the lack of a need for a building. Not having to buy or rent a building and not needing money to heat, cool, and maintain it offers a major reduction in expenses. Here are two other major differences to consider:
Do these savings result in much lower cost for the college and the student when the college makes the switch to online education? The answer to this question is not as clear as one might think. In the end, the cost of an online science education is comparable to a traditional one for a student.1 For example, a recent study showed that the overall cost per student who passes a course is around $99 for an online course and $105 per student for a traditional course.2 So when there is no need for building and facilities, where does the cost come from?
Online courses rely heavily on technology. A well-run online course needs to have the servers in place to run complex platforms that enable students to get the best experience possible. Often there is a need for chat rooms, video interfaces, and storage space to upload student work.3 All this requires:
Finally, designing a well-thought-out online course is more difficult than prepping for a classroom course. When something does not work or is unclear in a classroom, the instructor is there to explain and correct. That is not the case in an online class. Most online classes actually take up more instructor time than do traditional ones.4 Much of this is due to the need to provide individual feedback and assessments, which is easier done in a traditional class.
Depending on the physical location of your institution, online science education might be a cheaper alternative to traditional education. Inner-city locations are expensive and an online education facility might be cheaper to run, while in more rural areas the opposite might be true. An increase in student enrollment from outside the traditional recruiting area might increase your institution’s revenue flow. Thus, although at first glance it appears that an online science education costs as much as a traditional one, in the end the investment in a solid online program could offset the cost and make your institution more profitable.
We’re here to provide guidance every step of the way throughout the process of selecting investigations and building kits. Contact a Distance Learning Specialist today to discuss your own specific needs.
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