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         Digital tools in education

March 28, 2010

Online Education

Filed under: Online education — mepada @ 6:00 pm

Online Education

Our experience in Second Life, and some of the other online activities we have encountered in class prompted me to start thinking about online education.

  • My son Chris, who works full-time is a fan! He takes courses online in the evenings and/or week-ends to try to complete his college education.
  • A friend of mine who lives in Ohio, works full-time and is a mother of two, attends a 4-year online college  to study business.
  • Another friend, who lives in Richmond only enrolls in online courses because he claims they fit his learning style better.
  • I myself, have been tempted to take some classes (however my busy schedule has prevented me from doing it yet)

I found it difficult to try to evaluate the institutions that offer online alternatives, since they vary so much in nature:

  • Certificate programs (Strayer University, Brian & Startton College, etc.)
  • 2-year Associate’s programs (Ashford University, Colorado Technical University, Walden University, etc.)
  • 4-year programs (University of Phoenix Online, American Intercontinental University, Kaplan University, South University, etc.)
  • Graduate Master’s degrees (University of Phoenix, Capella University, etc.)
  • Juris Doctor programs (Concord Law School)
  • Hybrid -a combination of face-to-face and online- (DeVry University and others)
  • Synchronous (live) sessions or asynchronous (non-live) institutions (ITT Technical Institute and others)
  • Non-accredited (and /or fake) schools. This website states: “Don’t Buy Fake Online Degrees From Degree mill – Get accredited Online Degrees Here” They call their degrees: “life experiences degrees” http://www.accredited-non-fake-online-degree-mill.com/
  • Some do not offer degrees per se (Canadian Virtual University – CVU)
  • Others form an international association of sorts (Global University Alliance that is a consortium of 10 schools from the United States, England, Australia, Switzerland, Singapore, China, Japan and Denmark)

Here are some benefits and constraints I discovered:

Benefits:

  • Great for busy people. It can fit your schedule.
  • One does not have to drive/park to get to class.
  • You can do it from anywhere as long as you have access computer with the correct system requirements.
  • Notes and class documents can be easily archived (for future reference/access)
  • With latest software technology, instructors can add an audio comment to complement written messages to homework, assignments, quizzes and exams.
  • As more and more people obtain online degrees more potential employers may start to recognize them as valid and may be prone to accept them.
  • Many ways of presenting the material (text, hyperlinks, audio, video, slide presentations, video conferencing, etc.)
  • No dress code!
  • Shy students: The online environment can be less intimidating.

Constraints:

  • You need to develop good self-discipline and time management skills.
  • Lack of social interaction. Isolation from other students.
  • No real-time teacher/student exchange.
  • Some online institutions claim to be accredited when in fact they are not (Degrees-R-US)
  • Credits may not be transferable.
  • Access and knowledge of technology is required.

These institutions offer self-evaluation forms and other resources to help students determine if online-learning is their best alternative/option:

Resources:

http://money.howstuffworks.com/personal-finance/college-planning/admissions/online-degree.htm

http://collegeuniversity.suite101.com/article.cfm/online_college_courses

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