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Minorities and Online Higher Education

Educause Quarterly Volume 29, Number 4, ISSN 1528-5324


Colleges and universities in the United States often have rather homogenous environments in which cultural gaps exist between minority students and the institution. Campuses may unwittingly create a conflict between students' ethnic and cultural values and the dominant values of academe. After all, the American university models precepts from German universities of the early 1800s. Much of what is known about student attrition in higher education is drawn from Tinto's theory, which claims that students who feel isolated are more likely to end their college careers than students who feel connected and comfortable in the college environment. Students from minority cultures are particularly vulnerable to feeling isolated from the majority culture on many campuses. Online education has the potential for mitigating this problem, however. This author's experience teaching in the online college environment over the past four years has shown that the online college or university can build a bridge between academe and students from diverse cultures. By its nature, the Internet can create what feels like a culture in itself, yet students in the online environment represent a wide variety of cultures from a broad geographic spectrum. Each unique culture contributes to the online learning environment. In this article, the author describes the advantages of online education, especially to minorities in higher education. The author contends that online education offers one way to begin to eliminate racial inequities in higher education, and suggests that it could create a positive ripple effect throughout the academy for many years to come. (Contains 5 endnotes.)


Enger, K.B. (2006). Minorities and Online Higher Education. Educause Quarterly, 29(4), 7-8. Retrieved July 19, 2019 from .

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