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Online Learning Environments

As the online learning train picks up speed across the academic landscape, hundreds of colleges and universities have come on board1—some with merely a handful of students, others with tens of thousands. At institutions that have yet to climb on, many wonder whether it is worth creating potential conflicts with faculty, staff, and trustees. Is it worth carrying the burden of a new infrastructure? What are the academic consequences? On what basis is online education justified?

Colleges and universities come on board for many cogent reasons—some having to do with the institution's mission, others for prudent economic motives, and still others for a variety of other aims. Most offer e-learning to achieve intertwined goals. As Table 1 shows, online learning gives schools opportunities to explore various ...

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