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Twitter chat: Is online learning the future of college and grad school?

Will online learning replace face-to-face learning in higher education?

More than one in four students in the U.S. took at least one online post-secondary education class in 2014, totaling 5.8 million students, according to the latest report in February by the Babson Survey Research Group.

While the number of students taking online classes continued to grow, total enrollment in higher education institutions dropped by 2 percent. Enrollment in nonprofit and public institutions increased by 33 percent and 12 percent, respectively. The number of students enrolled in for-profit institutions, who were in the forefront of distance learning, dropped by 9 percent, according to the survey.

And as more students engage in online learning, how do we assess the experience and outcomes of online higher ed? Are the skeptics who are worried about the quality of online degrees justified?

To discuss online degree programs, the PBS NewsHour hosted a Twitter Chat on Thursday, Sept. 21 with Shanna Jaggars, director of Student Success Research with the Office of Distance Education and E-Learning at Ohio State University (@sjaggars); David White, executive director of the Online MS in Computer Science at Georgia Tech, recently profiled by the NewsHour (@GTOMSCS); Ben Miller, senior director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress (@EduBenM); and Doug Lederman, co-editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed (@dougledIHE).

Here’s a recap of the conversation.