Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication Department
ASYNCHRONOUS LEARNING NETWORKS: POLICY IMPLICATIONS FOR MINORITY SERVING INSTITUTIONS AND FOR LEADERS ADDRESSING NEEDS OF MINORITY LEARNERS
Date of this Version
Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, Volume 12: Issue 2
For minority serving institutions, policies that support learners call for decisions about equity, quality, cost, impact on national economic performance and international global relationships.
Changing U.S. demographics and globalization factors of the type described by Thomas Friedman in The World Is Flat (rapidly expanding technology infrastructure, politics, innovation)  are creating the environment within which policies in this country and around the world are and will be developed well into the first 25 years of the century. This paper is focused on the Minority Serving Institutions including formally designated MSIs as well as other public and private institutions desiring to provide online learning opportunities for diverse audiences. Policy choices involve decisions about equity, quality, cost, impact on national economic performance and international global relationships. College attendance in the United States has grown rapidly over the past 40 years with ever increasing student aspirations. Ninety percent of today’s high school students hope to attend college . As attendance rates have risen, so has the diversity of the student body. Minorities now comprise twentyeight percent of college students although some groups are still underrepresented. Fifty-eight percent of bachelor’s degree recipients attend two or more colleges. Twenty-eight percent of undergraduates attend part-time and seventy-three percent are non-traditional students. By 2015, one to two million additional young adults will seek access to college, many from low income and minority families. (It should be noted in this introduction that minority and low income, while sometimes correlated, are not the same. Also, minority learners come from many socio-economic backgrounds and circumstances and are found distributed across the performance curve.) Today the national expectation standard is no longer high school education, but college education for all. Research confirms that in all settings whether urban, rural or suburban, persistence, good teaching and an environment of great expectations elicit better performance from all students.