Earning a Degree Through Distance Learning

Distance education, or earning a degree online is a rapidly growing industry already slated to be worth billions.  While many people waste countless hours surfing on the net looking at nothing more than garbage, many people are investing their time into new new ways of improving their education.  Although many people and institutes of higher education are embracing this new revolution in education the results of our student survey conducted here at Miami seem to show that presently, undergraduates feel that distance education degree is not as valuable as a conventional one.

    The truth about distance education may surprise you.  The cautious student may fear online education because of the felling that an online degree is not worth the paper its printed on.  However, many well respected universities offer online degree programs with the same cost as their traditional courses.  For that much money it better be worth something!  Most importantly there are watchdogs out there making sure universities and their online courses meet an acceptable standard of education.  The DETC (Distance Education and Training Council) is the main athorithy on distance education and their site contains a vast pool of information on the subject.  A survey conducted by this organization shows that the most popular course at any distance learning education center requires a student to complete 31 lessons before graduation, and every lesson takes approximately 7 hours to complete.  This typically runs a course of about 9 months.  Only 57% of students who begin such a course manage to make it all the way through.  Web pages, chat rooms, e-mail, and bulletin board, the common ways of communicating online, are all utilized in this process.

    Many experts view the new online revolution as the greatest thing for academia since the #2 pencil.  Why is online learning becoming so popular?  Although immature undergrads attending a University may huff at the idea of online education, many adults wishing to earn a degree while at the same time maintaining a job have fallen in love with it.  Students on a business trip with a laptop now have the capability of downloading class material in an airport, working on it while in route, and then uploading it back to their professor at another airport!

   Although adults with a confining schedule may find online education the perfect solution, experts are quick to point out that online education is nothing like the traditional classroom setting.  Obviously a lecture in a chat room is not the same as a traditional one.  Currently there simply is nothing as good for leaning as face to face interaction.  In addition to this, because of the rigorous syllabus, and demanding workload associated with earning an online degree, many educators believe that distance learning is best suited for adults.  Not only do younger students all to often lack the patience to learn online, but learning this way just plain drains the fun out of college life.  Sitting in front of a computer to gain an education may well turn a healthy young individual into a lazy good for nothing vegetable!

(Clark, B.L., 1998)


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This project was produced for Psy 380, Social Psychology of Cyberspace, Spring 2000,  at Miami University.  All graphics in these pages are used with permission or under fair use guidelines, are in the public domain,  or were created by the authors.  Last revised:  This document has been accessed 1  times since 1 May 2000.  Comments & Questions to R. Sherman