Society has truly gone digital. However higher education is a bit behind in the fact that is still not a unified design for using online classes and technology. Many people believe that more effective and efficient use of technology may further reduce education gaps across class, gender, and racial divides, and is already doing so.
The Change in the College Population
With the expansion of online classes in many colleges and the explosion of MOOCs, college is more accessible than ever. As a result, there are now more women attending and graduating from college than men for the first time in history. While Fox News has called this a war on men, many see it is a big step in the advancement of women and of society in general. While women still tend to make less on average than men, much of this difference is due to persisting gender stereotypes in certain occupations.
Why Online Education Works for Women
Various studies have shown that in traditional classes, women often passively defer to their male peers while men are encouraged to be more outgoing and vocal in participation. Online courses offer more passive women the opportunity to achieve fully and to be heard equally in classes. In addition, online education frees women with confidence issues from worrying about body image and physical perfection; factors that have been proven to cause lower academic achievement.
In addition, the convenience, lower financial cost, and flexibility of online education provides great appeal for women who are single parents or who want to make sure they can care for families while getting an education. As the nuclear family and conventional career paths continue to break down, this flexibility and convenience will continue to be especially valuable, particularly to women.
Considerations of Online Education
Even with all of the current benefits involved, online education still has some issues to overcome. For example, the curricula in MOOCs must be designed with gender differences in mind so that more passive female students will not be scored differently than their more outgoing male counterparts. In addition, course content and grading needs to take into consideration the fact that men are more visual learners than women.
To be truly effective, online learning must take into consideration all differences between male and female learners, including societal experiences and attitudes. The end goal should never be a battle of the sexes, but instead should provide an equal opportunity for students of all ages, sexes, and backgrounds to advance themselves and to contribute to a better world. The growing number of women in college shows that things are definitely headed in the right direction, though there is much work to be done.