Online Education Degrees & Distance Learning Degree Programs

What is Online Education / Distance Learning?

Online education, commonly called e-learning or distance learning, is a method of offering education to learners who are not located on a campus. The instructor prepares lessons and assigns homework like normal, but the assignments are posted on the Internet, where the students can retrieve them from any computer. Most assignments are also submitted electronically and grades are sent via e-mail.

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Online Education FAQs

What are the types of Online Education?

Online education comes in a wide variety of styles. You may never actually meet your instructor face to face-on the other hand, your teacher may use a mixture of in-person and online learning for the class. All of your instructional materials may be online, or they may be standard textbooks. You may have a CD or DVD as supplementary material for your class.

How do potential employers view degrees and academic qualifications earned through online education?

Most employers these days are familiar with the concept of online classes, even entire degree programs conducted in the "virtual" classroom. Employers are more concerned that the educational institution from which you graduated is accredited than the method you used to obtain your degree. Many students today employ a mix of in-person and online classes to reach their degrees, so even completely online degrees are no longer uncommon.

How common is Distance Learning?

Distance learning is everywhere today. Corporations and the Federal Government use it to cut down on training costs and deliver "just in time" training to employees. Colleges and universities use it to reach out to non-traditional students or the disabled. Many instructors also enjoy teaching online, as they have resources at their fingertips via the Web, and can hold online discussions that are as challenging as in-person.

What are the Online Education trends?

While online education is still in its infancy, some trends are developing. One is that online classes are generally listed right alongside standard, on-campus classes. That's because the content is now identical. Also, more companies are offering complete "turn key" packages to learning institutions, making the addition of e-learning options as easy as signing a contract. A third trend is that gaming concepts such as role playing and interactive games are being used to engage adult learners.

How do I avoid plagiarism?

Plagiarism, or the practice of using someone else's words or work as your own, is a growing problem on college campuses. The availability of information via the Internet has exacerbated the problem, but it's easily avoided. Once you read a reference source, take a few minutes to condense it into your own words. How would you explain it to a friend? To your professor? Write that down, and you'll avoid plagiarism.

What is the difference between earning an online and traditional degree?

Other than location, there is no difference between earning an online or traditional degree. Just like any other class, you'll be assigned reading tasks, homework and other work to complete. Your work will be graded. You can confer with your instructor and usually your classmates. An online degree can carry exactly the same weight as a traditional degree.

What do I need to get started?

To get started with distance learning, you first need to decide what you want to do. Online education offers a variety of schooling, such as Associate, Bachelor and Masters degrees and vocational training.

Next, you need to find an accredited online organization. Many schools, colleges and universities offer online education. Distance learning is becoming more popular and so the number of online courses is multiplying, but not all of them offer valid qualifications. You also need to ensure that the course offers you what you want in terms of qualifications and subjects covered. Be sure to find out the prerequisite class and equipment requirements needed to complete the course. It's important to remember that some online courses do have a classroom element and you need to find out if that is the case for the class (es) you take.

How do I know if it is for me?

Online education is suitable for a wide range of people, young and old, working or unemployed, experienced or inexperienced. It gives people the opportunity to earn an educational degree / training even if they don't have the time to spend in the classroom. However, because there is little personal contact, you do need to be someone who is disciplined and can study independently. You can work at your own pace and re-take courses if necessary, but you need to persist in order to succeed. You will also need to have good reading and comprehension skills. In addition, you will be missing out on the social element of the more traditional schools so you should consider whether this matters to you or not.

What preparations are needed?

If you have been out of an education setting for a considerable period of time, you might want to brush up on your study skills. Some websites offer free course materials that include study skills. These do not offer certificates or qualifications, but they can give you the skills required to complete a course. They will also give you an idea of what it is like to study online. Some online education courses may include all of the study materials that you require, but for others you may need to buy textbooks and if this is so, then you should get a list before you start.

What kind of equipment and technical requirements should I have?

The equipment that you will need in order to take advantage of online education depends on the way the course is constructed. Some courses are conducted via email, while others require you to have more complicated systems such as video or voice conferencing and mobile devices. At minimum, you will require:

  • An up-to-date computer, preferably no more than 3 years old.
  • A high-speed Internet connection, either broadband or Wi-Fi.
  • A TV and VCR or DVD player.
  • A CD player.
  • A personal email account.

If you don't have such equipment available to you at home, many public libraries have computers and Internet access that can be used for a fee. There are also many Internet cafes, although this may work out to be quite expensive. As most of your course will be conducted online, you need to have at least a working knowledge of computers. You don't need to be able to program, but you do need to know how to login, process your email and navigate your way around the computer.

What are the educational requirements?

This depends on the type of online course you are taking. Some online courses do not require any formal qualifications, although you may be required to obtain a certain amount of relevant job experience. However, if you are attempting to acquire a degree, then you will need to achieve a certain educational standard in the relevant subjects. You should contact your chosen school, college or university to find out what their requirements are. Some may have an exam that you must complete successfully before you are accepted into the program.