Online Education Reality Check

Online Education Reality Check
  • Opening Intro -

    Well before the rise of the Internet, distance learning universities was an option for some students.

    Those days, courses were by correspondence -- students would complete assignments and send them off by mail to be reviewed by an instructor.

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Distance learning is not for everyone. See if you have what it takes.

The instructor would go over the assignment, mark it up, assign a grade and return the assignment to the student. This would go on until the student fulfilled the requirements of the course when a final grade was assigned.

Compared to online learning, this method was slow as molasses. But it worked well for some people.

Today, online education has essentially replaced correspondence driven education, enabling students from all over the world to enjoy distance learning. Millions of people are now learning online, opening up windows of opportunity that hadn’t existed previously. Some schools, such as the University of Phoenix, are largely online education providers. Other schools such as Stanford University, the University of Texas and Seton Hall University, offer online programs in addition to on-campus classes.

If you’re considering online education, there are some things you should consider. Our “reality check” will help you decide whether distance education is right for you:

You crave independent study — For students who like to learn on their own and at a pace that works with their schedule, independent study can be ideal. You set your schedule and study when you want — morning, noon, night or on weekends. Flexibility is the key for you as you learn while handling work, family and other responsibilites.

You don’t mind not interacting with your peers — Peer interaction is part of on-campus life. Not so with distant learning. Some programs and schools have attempted to resolve this deficiency through chat rooms and “go to meeting” type arrangements where everyone logs on at once and interacts. Barring that, you’ll have little if any connection with your classmates.

You are fine with limited instructor feedback — Certainly, you’ll hear from your professor. She will also be available to respond to your e-mails and may take your calls. Don’t count on face-to-face meetings, however, unless your instructor works nearby and there is an in-class option available.

You are technologically capable — Online learning means access to a computer, one that you generally own and have in your home or can carry about as in a laptop. As with any online work, certain programs can be challenging to learn as well as to access remotely. If you’re computer savvy, then whatever bumps in the road occur won’t be a problem for you. You also have broadband or some other quick and reliable connection, not dial-up which is so 1990s.

The above points don’t completely tell you how you would respond to online learning, but they do go a long way in helping you to review what distance education is all about. For a more thorough review of what online learning is all about, please visit the University of Illinois Online topic — Is Online Learning for You?

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Categories: Online Education