When December comes around, many of us are taking a look at the year about to end summing up our achievements and challenges. The Interpreter Education Online team considers the success of our students to be its highest achievement and finding the best ways to help our students in reaching their professional goals to be our primary goal.
It’s been more than a year and a half since Interpreter Education Online announced its launch at the 30th NAJIT Conference. Since then, more than a hundred of students have taken our courses. The vast majority of the students graduated successfully. They significantly improved their interpretation performance and expanded their knowledge of the U.S. judicial system. However, there were a few students who, despite completion of the course work, did not demonstrate the required growth of their skill level. And there were those who dropped out at various stages of the program. These students cause us a great deal of concern.
So I decided to compare our academic performance statistics with other online programs. Here is what I found out:
The 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning reveals that online enrollments have continued to grow at rates far in excess of the total higher education student population, with the most recent data demonstrating continued substantial growth. The twenty-one percent growth rate for online enrollments far exceeds the less than two percent growth of the overall higher education student population. Nearly thirty percent of higher education students now take at least one course online.[http://sloanconsortium.org/publications/survey/class_differences]
However, e-learning struggles with high dropout rates. There are no national statistics, but a recent report in the Chronicle of Higher Education found that institutions are seeing dropout rates that range from 20 to 50 percent for distance learners. [http://chronicle.com/blogPost/The-Online-Attrition/7228]. I am so happy to see that our dropout rates are much lower than the quoted above. Interpreters stick to their guns!
Still, these figures raise a lot of questions. What type of a student has more chances to succeed in the virtual learning environment? What are the most important factors: computer and software usage skills, self-motivation, self-discipline, or independent study skills? Would you pay more for synchronized live sessions with a trainer or trade a delayed feedback for lower tuition? We invite you to participate in a discussion on the best distance interpreter training practices. Share with us your personal experiences, your thoughts and ideas.
It is clear that virtual education is here to stay. Let’s make it work well for the art and craft of language interpretation!
Irina Jesionowski – Curriculum Director