A Prospective On Online Learning

Whatever your circumstances, professional development through an online course/degree offers great advantages compared to traditional means of education. E-Learning takes advantage of the rich multimedia capabilities of the internet to deliver a much more accessible and perhaps even more appealing learning experience compared to traditional lecturer/student communication of knowledge. Moreover, learning in a media rich environment is especially beneficial to students who find it troublesome to keep their focus during lengthily two hour lectures. As a distance learner, you develop the skills to teach yourself based on your own way of learning. When learning online, the computer can become your very own personal teacher, custom made to your own learning needs and requirements.

Flexibility and convenience are what really sells e-learning. You tailor the course to your own circumstances. Many of us work from 9 until 5 with hardly any time left of the day to do any sort of professional development. Imagine calling a lecturer when you are rested after dinner to give you a one-to-one lecture. That is what online learning can provide to you - not literally but with similar outcomes. Many online courses provide weekly or sometimes daily online discussions at night where one can ask questions and read questions and answers of the course tutor. Guidance and learning materials can be downloaded anytime of the day and assessment is made by submitting assignments online rather than having to personally go to the college or institute to submit a piece of work. Most online learners take the advantage of not having to travel for education and continue working full-time during the day which in most circumstances helps them financially as well as professionally. Not having to travel means that you don't have to take a leave off work and you get to gain professional experience while you are learning.

Perhaps the most frequent concern to online learning is the lack of personal face-to-face contact with the lecturer. Usually, the concern is based on the lack of previous experience with online learning and the uncertainty on whether you will get the necessary support when support is needed. As an online learner my self; I can tell you that this concern can be easily mitigated with various means of communication provided during an online course. For example; in my particular course emails – which are usually answered the next working day – as well as chat-rooms and discussion forums provide for most of the feedback I need as a student. Some lecturers do not even mind being called on the phone during office hours if something is urgent.

Online learning is similar to on-campus education in many ways. You are constantly under the guidance of the lecturer as well as your tutor and you are expected to progress in the same pace as on-campus students. You are provided the same resources that are available to on-campus students which include access to electronic journals and e-books as well as access to campus facilities if the course is offered through a university.

Another concern is accreditation and the value of online education to prospective employers. A survey conducted by the Distance Education and Trainig Council found that employees preformed better on the job as a result of a degree obtained online. Moreover, employers felt that employees who received a distance education degree compared favorably in terms of the knowledge learned. In a report published in 2006 by the Sloan Consortium, 62 percent of academic leaders rated the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in a face-to-face environment. It should be noted; however, that students should seek proof of accreditation from a regional or national accrediting body or the Department of Education in their country before signing up to an online course as there are a number of virtual institutes who offer unaccredited courses mainly for financial gain.

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If you use a popular search engine to look for courses provided online, you will be bombarded with unrelated and often useless results. Some results may even include websites providing fake courses (referred to as diploma mills). I was fortunate enough to come across EarnMyDegree.com which neatly classifies allot of online education providers by level as well as by subject. There is literally a plethora of online education providers from associate degree providers to Masters and PHD providers. One page of particular interest to me is Online Tech Degrees where you get links to institutes providing degrees in various sub-fields of information technology. Whether you are interested in computer science, telecommunication, programming, software engineering, database administration, or even technology project management, EarnMyDegree.com have a list of all online education programme providers that are of interest you.


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