Online education, also known as distance learning or e-learning, differs from traditional education because students are not required to visit an actual classroom and listen to an instructor face-to-face.
Online education is "a classroom without walls," says Dr. Stella Thompson, an online Assistant Professor of English at Prairie View A&M University. It's "engaging in assisted, self-directed learning."
Education Equals Higher Salaries
In the past, working adults weren't able to further their careers because of time restraints; including, but not limited to, working overtime, business travel, and caring for families. Online education takes away those time restraints by offering a completely virtual learning experience.
Working adults can now continue their education, earn higher degrees, and earn more money by attending courses that primarily take place over the Internet.
Benefits of Learning Online
Online education is truly about student convenience. Students can check in, work on assignments, and turn them in when their schedules permit, not when the college doors are open.
Online education means students no longer have to:
* quit their jobs to attend college,
* take time off from work to attend a specific course,
* find a babysitter,
* spend hours in rush hour traffic or drive 200 miles to the nearest University,
* spend precious minutes looking for a parking space, and then
* waste more of those minutes walking from class to class.
It also means students:
* learn at their own pace,
* gain more one-on-one access to their instructors, and
* earn degrees in less time than it would take to juggle traditional courses.
How Online Education Works
After researching the best accredited institution, students are required to apply to one of the college's degree programs. Once accepted into an online program, students are asked to sign up for appropriate courses. After the registration process is complete and students are accepted into the program, the real work begins.
Students begin their course studies by logging onto the Internet. Once they're in their appropriate classroom, they'll learn by reading assignments, asking questions, and receiving instructor feedback. Some courses even offer forums and/or chat rooms where students can gather, with or without the instructor, to discuss assignments. Finally, students are graded on homework assignments, final projects, and test scores.
While most online courses are done using the above method, some courses are done during set times with more sophisticated programs, like the one Mrs. Strong-Millsap uses in her high school courses.
"In the program I teach, all students log in at the same time each day," says Joanna Strong-Millsap, a high school distance learning instructor. "We use microphones and headsets to communicate in real time. And the software program the school provides allows me to use a white board, PowerPoint presentations, and film, video, and audio clips. We can even pull up websites."
All Courses Are Not Created Equally
Different programs require different levels of computer and/or Internet knowledge. Therefore, it is vital students take the time to speak with potential instructors, previous college students, and even the computer tech department to get a better understanding of the teaching methods and technology used.
"Online instructors, like those teaching traditional courses, bring to their courses their own personal experiences, teaching objectives, and preferred methodologies. In addition, the institution's technology and technical support also influence learning experiences," says Dr. Thompson. "Some courses are text and content-focused, while other courses emphasize more technical skill and interaction with technology."
If students don't take the time to understand how the courses are designed, they could end up in a class that is too technologically advanced and suffer academically.
So while traditional colleges will never fade away, online educational institutions are growing in number and enrollments because they offer the working class a chance to advance in their careers, develop a higher level of personal confidence, and fulfill life-long dreams.
If you're ready to jump-start your education, an online course may be just what you need.