African-American College Students Are More Satisfied With Distance Education Classes Than Their White Counterparts

New figures from the Department of Education show only minor racial differences in participation in distance education courses among undergraduate college students. In 2004, 16.5 percent of all white undergraduates took a distance education course either through videoconferencing or on the Internet. For blacks, 15.2 percent of all undergraduates took a distance education course.

But there were major differences among the races in the level of satisfaction for distance education. Nearly 36 percent of all black undergraduates said that they were more satisfied with the overall learning experience in their distance education classes than they were with regular classroom instruction. For whites, only 25.9 percent of all undergraduates preferred their distance education experience to regular classroom instruction.

Perhaps the racial anonymity that distance education entails can be a benefit for black students. African Americans who take courses over the Internet or by watching a class taught by a teacher at a remote location may receive some benefit from the fact that the teacher and fellow students are not able to discern their race. In the distance education classroom, there are no visual clues to a student’s race and therefore all students may be treated without prejudice. In a regular classroom, black students are often stereotyped due to the color of their skin.