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Pearson contract increases U. value


Earlier this month, the University partnered with Pearson eCollege, a Colorado distance learning company that provides partner institutions with online learning software services necessary for virtual education. The seven-year contract, according to University administrators, will bring thousands of online students to the school by 2020, both increasing its reach and the resources available to students on campus and beyond. As education in the 21st century continues to redefine itself, all should laud the University’s newest plunge into the world of online education.

The partnership, which will increase the number of master’s degree programs offered online through the New Brunswick, Newark and Camden campuses, helps move the University into a field whose advantages have already been realized by hundreds of secondary and post-secondary schools across the country. The number of schools offering fully online degree programs has nearly double in the last 10 years, according to the U.S. News and World Report. And other schools — including Harvard and MIT, who partnered with MIT last year to launch a series of massive online open courses called edX — have begun to take online learning and its capabilities even farther.

It need not be said that education is changing. Traditional methods of learning — the ones with which most students here on campus are familiar with — are no longer the only effective ways of connecting students to teachers. The Internet, along with web-based software that allows individuals to connect over vast distances, has not only made information more accessible, but has provided a useful alternative to the olds ways of learning.

Nor are those methods, at least for many people, the most appropriate. According to David Finegold, Senior Vice President for Lifelong Learning and Strategic Growth Initiatives, the University’s new online degree programs are meant to specifically cater those people for whom a traditional, in class education is not possible. Individuals with disabilities, with families or in the military will now be able to further their education through the University without having to have stepped foot on campus. When one grants that educating individuals is a good thing no matter how it is done, the benefits of online learning become clear.

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