How to Choose a Quality E-learning Program
E-learning programs offer students the opportunity to earn a degree or pursue an interest from the comfort of their home or office. Many people are interested in participating in this type of learning but are concerned about the quality of the education that they will receive and about how their degree or web based training will be viewed by others when they finish their online courses. Therefore, it is important to consider some of the following things when deciding which e-learning company or school to use.
Accreditation is the term that schools, colleges and universities use to indicate that they meet the quality and standards set forth by a nationally recognized accreditation agency. Many times, these schools, colleges and universities are referring to the accreditation standards set forth by the National Education Association.
Schools that are accredited by the National Education Association have proven that they have a quality program that provides accurate information to their students. Also, students may transfer credits between different colleges and universities that have been accredited by the National Education Association. That means that if you begin your degree online and then chose to attend a traditional college or university that is accredited that you can transfer your credits and not have to retake courses that you have successfully completed.
Just as accreditation provides the student with helpful information about the quality of an online distance education program’s quality, it is also provides information to potential employers. Employers will understand that you got the web based training necessary to succeed as an employee in their company.
Once you have determined that the school is accredited, it is important to understand the graduation requirements before you enroll in online courses. You want to look for an e-learning school that requires you to get a well rounded education within your area of study so that you are well prepared to enter the work force.
Quality of Teaching
Remember, that you are hiring the school and paying them for a service. Your professors are professionals whom you are hiring to teach you. Therefore, it is important and well within your rights to inquire about their credentials. For example, you might be interested in where they attended school, whether they have worked in the field that they are teaching, how long they have been teaching and whether they have published any articles, studies or books in the subject area.
Success of Students
It is important to research and inquire as to how much support the online program will provide to students. Different students have different e-learning styles. Some are completely independent learners who do their work with minimal assistance from their professor or support person. Other students need to be able to ask questions of their professor and interact with other students in order to learn. Therefore, is important to understand how students can contact their professor, whether there is any student interaction and how different e-learning styles are accommodated. There are many adult education alternatives that may surprise you.
Further, computer or technical support is often an important part for online distance education. All of your class work including quizzes, tests, homework sets and research papers will need to be submitted online. So, it is important that you have the technical support necessary to complete your work and earn good grades.
Success of Graduates
If you are going to take the time away from your work, family and personal interests to pursue an online degree then it is important that you understand the types of benefits that might be available to you when you finish the program.
The best way to do that is to see if the online program maintains an alumni directory. That way you can e-mail a few alumni and ask them what they think the benefits were of attending the program. If the school does not maintain a directory then ask them for a few alumni references. They may be happy to comply with your request.
Time and Cost
Certainly, accreditation, a challenging curriculum, the quality of teaching and the success of students and graduates are important. However, if the logistics of the program do not work for you then all of the other criteria are meaningless.
So, when you are deciding which e-learning program to enroll in be sure to think about the flexibility of the program’s schedule and the cost of the program, including any financial aid opportunities.
Choosing which school to attend is a big decision that could potentially impact your future career. Therefore, it is important to take the time to choose a quality e-learning program.
The Benefits of Choosing Distance Education
As high speed internet connections become more common distance education opportunities are becoming more prevalent. This provides benefits for many people who previously were unable to pursue their degrees or further their careers. When you are deciding whether a distance education program is right for you consider the following benefits of distance education:
1. Distance Education is Helpful for People who Have Trouble Getting to Class:
There are many reasons why people might have trouble taking classes and pursuing degrees at traditional college and universities. Some people have physical or mental disabilities that make it very difficult, if not impossible, for them to leave their homes. In the past this effectively prevented people from pursuing higher education. However, students who choose to pursue a distance learning program will not be at a disadvantage.
Similarly, distance education is helpful for people who have demanding jobs or parenting responsibilities that make it impossible to get to a college campus to take courses. These people benefit from being able to further their education at home or at the office. This is particularly important if the student lives a considerable distance from a college or university since distance learning completely cuts out any commute time.
2. Access to what you want to study:
One of the biggest benefits of distance education is that your choice of what to study is virtually unlimited. You can pursue a distance education doctorate in your current professional field or you can take a completely different type of class. E-learning can be beneficial to elementary education also.
Whether you live in a college town like Boston or rural parts of North Dakota, your choices of what to study were once limited by what was offered by the institutions of higher learning in your area. Today, thanks to distance education that is no longer true and you can study whatever you want to study without thought to your current geographic location.
3. Learn at Your Own Pace:
Many online courses are set up so that you decide when it is time to move on to the next topic. This is a great benefit of self paced distance education courses. Instead of being one of the fast learners who is ready to move on well before the rest of the class and becomes bored and uninterested or being one of the slow learners who doesn’t fully understand a concept before the teacher moves on, a student in an online course can control when each new concept is introduced.
4. Affordability: Distance education courses are often less expensive than traditional colleges and universities. This is true because of the simple fact that tuition is lower. It is also true because the distance education student avoids paying student fees, parking fees and room and board. Often, students also avoid paying book fees because all of the course material is located online.
5. Learning: Many people find that their personalities are well suited for distance learning courses. Shy people are more likely to join an online class discussion than they are to raise their hand in a large lecture hall. Students can also review the material as many times as they need to before moving on to more difficult concepts.
The History of Distance Education
Distance education is not a new concept. There is evidence that off–site education was happening in the United States back in the 1700s through mail in programs where students mailed their work back to their teachers.
Distance education continued into the twentieth century. During the mid to late 1900s, new forms of distance education became possible over the telephone, radio and TV. Some high schools began to offer distance education classes in courses that they did not offer.
By the beginning of the 21st century, distance education had become mainstream with the invention of online education. It is estimated that well over 90% of the largest colleges and universities in the United States offer online education courses and more than 3 million students participated in these courses during the 2005 school year.
While the benefits of distance education have been consistent through the years, it has never been as convenient as it is now to participate in this type of learning experience. Accordingly, we are seeing a surge in the number of students who take advantage of distance education each year.