Answers to those burning questions about online learning

Answers to those questions about online classes1. Are online classes easier?
Online courses have come a long way since the first online course was offered by The New York Institute of Technology in 1984. Technology since that time has changed drastically. In addition to changing technology, we have learned much about online learning since the 1990’s when online course offerings became more widespread.

As for me, I earned one Master’s degree in the traditional method back in the dark ages (1979). I earned the second one in 2009, taken fully online from the same college. Was the second one any easier? The answer is NO! In fact, in many of the classes, more was required of me, as I wasn’t allowed to just show up for class and listen. I was required to participate, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning more interactively rather than passively.

The same content is covered in online courses as in traditional courses, but simply by a different mode of delivery. Online courses tend to be more student-driven, which has been shown to result in deeper learning.

2. I learn better by interaction and need more motivation. Can online courses provide that?
Absolutely! In some cases, there may be more communication. Using discussions, web conferencing software, among many other technologies, online classes can be more interactive than the face-to-face courses. In the discussion area, for example, many students are more comfortable with self-expression than in a face-to-face setting and tend to participate more freely.

As both a former student and a present instructor of online courses, I’ve learned that much can be learned from other students. Many times, the discussions are based on application of course concepts to real life. With each person having different life experiences and thoughts, this provides a great amount of learning based on “real life”, rather than simply theory and concepts. Online courses can be just as interactive, if not more, than traditional courses.

3. Will employers hire me if I have a degree earned online?
The myth that employers believe online degrees are inferior to traditional degrees is just that: a myth.

Content in traditional courses and online is the same. Colleges must adhere to standards required by the U.S. Department of Education, in order to be accredited.

Accreditation is vital because it ensures that course and program quality meet stringent academic standards, and can help with seamless transfer of college credits. If a college is not accredited by an accrediting agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education, there are no assurances relating to its value. (Community College of Aurora is accredited by North Central Higher Learning Commission.)

4. Will my online class or degree transfer to a four-year college?
The answer to that is going to depend on the degree and the four-year college.

An online class or degree should transfer the same as a traditional course, although in all transfer situations, check with the four-year institution that you may be considering for specific details.

5. How good is an online education vs an education earned in a traditional setting?
I’m going to answer this one with a question. If you ordered a new computer through mail order and it was delivered to your door, would it be the same quality as the same computer that you might go to the store to purchase in-person?

The product is the same either way; all that changes is the method of delivery. Just because the delivery method is different, doesn’t mean it isn’t as good. You just may like it even better because of the added convenience!

 

About the Author

JoAnn is the Associate Dean of Online Learning at CCA. She has a B.S. in Business Administration, a M.S. in Instructional Technology, and a M.B.A. She has been involved in online learning and instructional technology for many years. She believes online learning will continue to grow, as well as the movement to access courses on mobile devices.  

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