As we begin a new school year, more and more students are stepping out of the classroom and signing up for classes online. The Department of Education released a study that shows the average students who take online classes score higher on tests than students who learn in a classroom setting. Kate Heaton is a communications student at UNCW, but she doesn't spend too much time on campus. She takes the majority of her classes online. "It's more convenient for me with a busy schedule, it makes it more convenient for me to just do my class work when I have a chance, rather than knowing i need to be in a class by a certain time,” Heaton said. Online education continues to grow in popularity. At UNCW, the number of students taking online classes has doubled in the last two years. Students miss out on the face-to-face interaction, but the president of one online college, Bernelli University, says using technology to teach the material is a way around that. "Although they're not physically next to each other, they can see each other and interact on video." Cindy Iannarelli says online education is the wave of the future. Students who take advantage of it, may have a leg up. "We're really going into the information age and so students with a degree from an online university, they are further ahead, than students in a traditional classroom." Still, Heaton says she's glad her whole schedule isn't online so she doesn't miss out on the college experience. "You wouldn't be as involved on campus, I probably wouldn't be as involved in the student organizations I’m in now, and I lived on campus for two-three years and I probably wouldn't have lived on campus if I had taken online classes." A Department of Education study compared online versus classroom performance for the same courses over a twelve-year span. It showed on average, students taking one or all of their classes online ranked in the 59th percentile in test performance compared to traditional classroom students, who scored in 50th percentile.
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