The internet has completely revolutionized the way we operate. Thanks to the internet, numerous services are available online that previously required visiting a physical location.
Today, it is even possible to get an education through an online program. In the past, many people were skeptical about receiving an online education, as the technology was still new, and the only reference many people had of long-distance learning was through correspondence courses. There were questions about how students were going to be able to participate in classroom discussions and how tests were supposed to be administered. With the current technology that is available, however, most of these concerns have been laid to rest, and pursuing an online education can be the best option for many individuals seeking to advance their careers.
A large part of what helped legitimize online schools is the number of real world schools that have online programs. There are quite a few colleges that only exist online, but many of the programs are run through an established college with a physical location. Whether you choose to take all of your classes online or attend a mixture of online and physical classes is entirely up to you and your scheduling needs.
Online degree and certificate programs are varied. Like a traditional college, there are options available for a wide variety of majors. There are also different levels of education available, ranging anywhere from an associate degree all the way up to a doctoral program. The degrees available will change depending on the online course. Admission into an online college is similar to a traditional college. You will have to submit an application and provide an educational transcript.
Some basic technological skill is required if you want to attend an online course. You will need a computer with a reliable internet connection. You will have to be familiar with the following areas:
If you are attending an online course as part of an on-campus college, you may be required to attend the college from time to time. Some online courses also have internships or residency programs that take place on a physical campus.
There are many advantages to taking an online class, but there are some disadvantages, as well. Before you enroll in an online course, you should take the time to honestly consider whether you want to take an online course. One of the biggest difficulties with online education is staying motivated. Online courses are only effective if you can motivate yourself to take your classes. It is very easy to put off coursework when you are at home and do not have to adhere to a traditional school schedule.
Another one of the biggest differences with online classes is being alone. Even if you are interacting with your teacher and fellow students online, it does not provide the same feeling of speaking with someone face to face. For some students who are uncomfortable speaking in public, this may be a benefit. If you are the type of person who likes to ask a lot of questions and commonly visit your teachers outside of class to discuss your lessons, you may not do well in an online class.
Not all students need to attend an online course for a degree. Many students take online courses because they need additional certification to advance in their chosen career. Taking these classes from a traditional college campus can be very expensive. If you are primarily interested in taking a specific class, you may be able to find an online course that allows you to attend for free. There are a couple of different options for taking online courses solely for career advancement.
EdX is a great program with classes available from a variety of schools. The website offers multiple search options, so you can specifically search by school, subject or general topic. Some colleges have their own free educational resources available. MIT offers its MIT OpenCourseware program for free, which allows you to search through free courses provided by MIT. Some companies offer free online classes that may help you advance in your career, such as Microsoft Virtual Academy or iTunesU.
Another similarity online colleges share with traditional colleges is accreditation. Before you take an online course, you must check to see whether the school is accredited. Accreditation means the school meets all the necessary criteria to be considered a legitimate college or university. If a school does not have any accreditation, any degree that you earn from that school may be considered invalid. Accreditation is especially important for online degrees and certificates, since many employers will check to see if an online degree or certificate comes from an accredited school if it is mentioned on your resume.
Fortunately, checking to see whether a school is accredited is a very simple process. Most schools will openly advertise their accreditation. In addition, any online school that is part of a traditional campus will usually have the same accreditation as the physical campus. Once you see if the school is accredited, you should make sure it is from a legitimate source, such as the Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Not all online courses are the same. Before selecting an online education program, you should evaluate why you are taking an online course instead of attending a traditional school. If you have a busy schedule because you work during the day or take care of family members, you should look for online programs that do not have set time requirements. Many online programs provide students with deadlines to complete assignments, but there are some classes that have specific hours you are required to login to the classroom to participate in discussions or lessons.
There are also some differences in how online colleges charge students. Some online classes will only charge you for each class you take, which is great if you only need to complete one or two courses for certification. If you have to take many classes, you should look for a school that charges for the whole school year.