Online Schools in Maryland | Online College Trends in MD
Online education has revolutionized the way Americans prepare for tomorrow's job market, and with its ever-growing crop of institutions offering online courses, Maryland is a party to this change. Maryland schools, and schools accepting students from the state have created programs designed to promote, enhance and improve online learning within the state.
Online education is on an upward trend nationally as even traditional colleges continue launch or expand their online course offerings. According to a 2010 report from the Sloan Consortium (sloanconsortium.org), almost two-thirds of private-sector colleges and universities said that online learning was a critical part of their long-term strategy. Meanwhile, the report notes that during the same year, the growth rate for online enrollments was 21 percent nationally, which far exceeded the 2 percent growth in college enrollments overall. Maryland, which strives to remain at the vanguard of higher education, continues to expand its own share of colleges offering online degrees -- a move that could help it maintain its status as one of the most educated states in the country.
Trends in Maryland Online Schools
Maryland Online (marylandonline.org), an online consortium of colleges and universities offering online degrees in Maryland, conducts research into the progress and outcomes of online coursework, both within the state and nationally. One of its flagship studies is the "W" Study. Published in 2010, the "W" Study surveyed students attending online schools in Maryland to identify why they chose to attend classes online, and why some chose to withdraw from courses before completing their certificates or degrees. According to MOL, the purpose of the research was to improve the quality of online colleges in Maryland and their ability to promote student success. Because any Maryland institution licensed by the Maryland Higher Education Commission can join Maryland Online, all have the opportunity to apply to and benefit from the information garnered through the "W" Study.
MOL was launched in 1999 to extend higher education access to residents whose work or family obligations prevent them from attending traditional classroom courses. Through the program, students can research schools offering online classes in Maryland. Faculty teaching online courses within the state can also find support here from Maryland Online's Mentoring Quality. Mentoring Quality coordinates peer-to-peer mentorship in an effort to improve the quality of teaching and learning in an online environment.
Online College Degrees in Maryland
The nonprofit group Lumina Foundation ranks Maryland eighth among the top U.S. states in terms of college attainment in 2010. According to the report, which parsed information from both the Census Bureau (census.gov) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov), nearly 45 percent of Maryland adults held college degrees in 2010, and if that rate of attainment continued, that share would grow to 48.6 percent by 2018. While this figure is encouraging, it still falls short of projected employer demand: Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce (cec.georgetown.edu) projects that 66 percent of U.S. jobs will require a college credential by 2018. If Maryland does not improve its rate of attainment to meet that demand, its workforce may battle a skills gap that limits the state's economic growth overall. The improved higher education access provided by online schools in Maryland can help close this gap, especially among residents whose work or family obligations prohibit them from attending traditional brick-and-mortar institutions.
Though the CEW's data projects that two-thirds of the national workforce will need college degrees within the next decade, those within Maryland specifically could find that earning credentials in those industries expected to grow the most within their state especially beneficial. According to data from Maryland's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (dllr.state.md.us), the two industries with the highest projected employment growth between 2010 and 2020 are health care and social assistance (27 percent) and professional, scientific and technical services (21.4 percent). Maryland colleges -- both public and private -- have launched or expanded their online offerings to meet the demand for higher education both within these industries in recent years.
Online Colleges in Maryland
Schools offering online degrees in Maryland span a wide breadth of institutions: large or small, public or private. One of the largest schools to do so is the University of Maryland. According to its Office of Extended Studies (oes.umd.edu), UM offers courses in a diversity of disciplines. These courses can be synchronous and asynchronous, giving students the option of logging into online coursework either at scheduled times or whenever their schedules allow. In 2012, the University of Maryland became one of the first institutions of higher learning to sign on to the Coursera initiative. Coursera is a non-profit consortium of universities that offers free, not-for-credit online classes to students from all across the globe. UM participation in the program includes providing both curricula and faculty for a share of courses offered by Coursera. For Maryland students, this program offers students an opportunity to test-drive not only UM's online courses, but also online education at large.
Two other well-known institutions offering online classes in Maryland are the University of Maryland University College (umuc.edu) and Towson University(towson.edu). UMUC allows enrolled students across the globe to access content at any time and also allows them to sample the school's online learning interface before enrolling in classes. Students at UMUC can choose from 28 degree programs and 5 certificates, available entirely online. While Towson University's online program allows students to earn undergraduate or graduate degrees and certificates or professional certifications fully online, students are expected to interact with fellow students and professors at specific times, typically through real-time Web conferences, Skype or by phone. TU's undergraduate and graduate online programs include the allied Health Undergraduate Program; Applied Information Technology (M.S.); Human Resource Development (M.S.) - Online Educational Leadership Track; Integrated Homeland Security Management (M.S.); and Master of Business Administration (MBA).