Book Review: Online Education for Dummies

Book Review: Online Education for Dummies
  • Opening Intro -

    I must admit that I’m not a big fan of the various “For Dummies” reference books that have surfaced over the past two decades.


Not so dumb advice offered!

Not that these books aren’t helpful, rather the title series puts me off — I’m not into calling uninformed people “dummies” as I prefer to use more positive language to help build them up.

Nevertheless, I can look past any title series especially if the topic at hand has something of value to impart. One such book, Online Education for Dummies (2010 | Wilson Publishing), offers a good foundation and guidance on how to pursue distance education and is written by Kevin Johnson and Susan Manning who are well steeped in online instruction.

Dummies Titles

In any case, the “For Dummies” series has spawned more than 1,600 titles since 1991, with more than 200 million copies sold. It looks like plenty of people appreciate the “making everything easier” crux of these books.

Online Education begins by explaining what distance learning is and how it works. The authors are quick to stress the advantages of learning online including working around your schedule, saving money in commuting costs, the convenience of working at home and anonymity, the latter benefit which can help the student who may feel that they are at a disadvantage when working in a public setting.

Detailed Guidance

Plenty of handholding is offered including instructing people how to find online classes, evaluating schools, netiquette, and getting your work done. And although online education pertains chiefly to higher education, Johnson and Manning discuss school age distance learning options as well. Chapter 16 is dedicated to homeschool education, an area the authors recognize as being in strong demand.

Online learning is easier than traditional education, right? Some people think so, but the authors are quick to dispel that notion, a point I’m glad was not overlooked (page 35). The same instructional material covered in class is offered online, the venue and pace at which that information is dispensed is different.

Online learners still have to take tests, do reports and keep at it. In fact, the amount of self-discipline required is huge compared to brick ‘n mortar instruction. By the way, read what the authors have to say about cheating (page 316) to see how this problem is curtailed online.

Educational Funding

One area certain to be of concern is paying for your education (chapter 6). Chapter 20 offers recommendations of ten institutions including Nova Southeastern University where Johnson received his doctorate degree. Online education can be expensive, especially at for-profit institutions. You can save money by taking courses from your in-state university or by taking classes at a nonprofit school such as Western Governors University.

No matter, you may be eligible for financial aid regardless of how or where you take your classes and you also be able to secure student loans. Of course, be careful about borrowing anything — you’ll be on hook to pay it all back.

Online education isn’t right for everyone, a point the authors are quick to note. That’s important because although distance learning has its advantages, some students would wither if they lost their daily social interaction.

Adv. — Is funding for college elusive? If so, then check out the Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loan to see if this funding option is right for you.


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Categories: Book Reviews