Are you interested in earning a degree but can’t attend school fulltime? If so, you may find distance learning the ideal solution. Distance learning is where you earn your degree at home over the Internet at your own pace. Below you will find everything you need to know to get you started, including what online education entails, what you can expect, and some of the best online degree programs.
How Do Online Programs Work?
Online programs are completed over the Internet. The candidate applies and enrolls online. The courses are delivered through various methods, such as streaming videos, DVDs, email, podcasts, and virtual classrooms. In a virtual classroom, the online courses are available to the students on a website that integrates various learning tools such as streaming audio and video, email, instant messenger, and forums. Students can view informational posts, lectures, text files and even assignments.
Assignments and tests can be completed online and submitted electronically. If students have questions, they can communicate with instructors through email, video chatting, message boards, audio conferencing and instant messaging. Many online students state that communication between students and instructors is excellent. In most instances, students felt teacher/student interaction at online schools was comparable to at a traditional campus.
Are Programs 100% Online?
Although many programs may be listed as online programs, not all of them are 100 percent online. One example is with health-related programs such as nursing. Nursing programs require completing a curriculum that includes classroom courses, lab studies, and clinical rotations. While the coursework can typically be done online, the clinical rotations must be completed in a medical facility.
However, there are many online programs where the student can earn the degree with online courses. This is often the case with business programs. Many of the online programs allow the student to complete the courses online but complete an internship at the end of the program.
100% Online vs. Hybrid
As stated above, some programs may be 100% percent online, while others may be listed as hybrid programs. Hybrid programs are programs like health care programs that cannot be all online because of internship or clinical requirements. Even some programs that don’t have these requirements may be hybrid programs. Hybrid programs offer some classes online and others on campus.
Benefits of an Online Degree
Many students enrolled in online degree programs state they felt more comfortable communicating with other students in a virtual classroom than if they were in a face-to-face situation. There are several benefits to earning a degree online. The Open Education Database listed the following, along with other benefits of obtaining an education online.
• Often less expensive
• Fewer hours commuting every day
• Student can save on gas expenses
• Students can continue to work at their regular job.
• More comfortable learning environment
• Flexible and convenient
• Various programs and courses available
Are Online Programs Viewed As Good as Traditional Programs?
When online programs first began, many people did not look at the degrees the same as if it were earned at a brick-and-mortar college. However, with online education becoming so popular, more and more students are choosing to earn their degrees online. Employers now have more positive views on online degrees.
Many employers also felt that it wasn’t as important whether the degree was online as much as what field the degree represented. In other words, online degrees are more acceptable in some areas like technology than they are with others. In many cases, the candidates work experience played an even larger part than the method in which the degree was obtained.