Online Learning, Not So Distant

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Busy adults who cannot find the time to set foot on campus are embracing online learning like never before. Millions of students are enrolled in programs where distant learning is emphasized, often with no requirement to ever attend school in person.

online learningThe rise of distant learning was almost inevitable. Today’s online learning has grown ever more competitive and people need more and more education to keep up. Balancing work, education and personal life is not easy if you have to go to your university campus every day. The development of greater learning technology, internet and mobile broadband, and teaching techniques has resulted in a boom of online learning.

The rise of distant learning hasn’t always been well received by educators and members of the business community, but a recent white paper analysis from George Lorenzo, publisher of Educational Pathways  and sponsored by non-profit, Western Governors University (WGU) indicates that acceptance is gaining for degrees awarded by online institutions.

Richard Garrett, senior research analyst for Eduventures, an education research and consulting firm headquartered in Boston, notes, “If you ask employers about their sense of the quality of online education — is it of equal quality to traditional education? — the response you typically get is a growing adherence to it being of equal quality.”

“Quality will continue to be a major concern,” according to Patrick Partridge, Vice President of WGU. “And rightly so. Students should be even more concerned about quality than employers. They need to realize that the skills and knowledge they learn are more important than the diploma itself if they are going to excel in their careers.”

For its part, Western Governors University (WGU) is among the leaders in online learning setting the trend and raising the bar in distant learning. Indeed, last year WGU was awarded the national “Best Practices in Distance Learning” award from the U.S. Distance Learning Association. TIME Magazine recently featured WGU as “the best relatively cheap university you’ve never heard of.” (November 17, 2008).

Employers are now recognizing the importance of  online learning when it comes to tuition reimbursement for employees. In a 2007 research study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) over 70% of the respondent companies offered tuition reimbursement for online degrees from regionally accredited colleges. According to Gerry Crispin, who was a member of the SHRM Technology & HR Management Special Expertise Panel, “There are many more adult learners out there who are getting their degrees online, and many of them are now hiring managers.” In fact, most college transcripts never indicate if the degree was earned online or not.

So if you are considering returning to college but have been hesitant about your online learning options, don’t be. The trend toward learning from afar is gaining, especially among adults who are returning to college to finish their undergraduate work or to seek an advanced degree.

Source: Western Governors University

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Categories: Campus News