Monday, December 11

Choosing an Online College Course

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         Online education was pioneered in the UK by The Open University (http://www.open.ac.uk/) but is now offered by many colleges and universities around the world. Online education or distance learning was initially seen by many as just a supplement to the brick-and-mortar classroom with traditional teaching and learning methods and materials. Over the last few years however, improved technology and educational techniques have made online high school classes and online college courses viable alternatives to traditional methods of learning. Today the student does not have to set foot in a classroom to obtain good academic qualifications up to Masters Degree level.

     Today’s students, can benefit in a number of ways that previously they could not. They can get their qualifications despite having no way to get to the school of their choice, or they may have children, a home, and one or more jobs that keeps them from physically attending classes at a campus that might be too far away.

     These students can make use of online college courses that feature lectures via Internet meetings, video, audio, email, instant messages, bulletin boards and chat rooms, and online study and research sources.

     For the home-schooled, or the advanced high school student, the benefits of access and choice are great. For students, who for religious or personal reasons, do not wish to mix at school segregation or integration are available. Equally those who prefer a religiously oriented curriculum can also be accomodated.

     Online college courses are equal opportunity courses. Students of any age, race, creed, color, religion, location, learning ability, disability, or mindset can find the materials, sources, and lessons he or she needs or wants from fully accredited courses

     If you choose an online course you need to be aware of a few caveats. Before applying check that the online college courses is genuine and the accreditation is in place. There are some online college courses that are not qualified offer the qualifications quoted in that they are not “accredited”. If you are looking to use the online learning experience as credited coursework (to transfer, to get a job or a degree), be sure that the online college is one which meets the standards set by the state’s, province’s, or country’s accreditation body, agency, or board.

     In the U.S. the Department of Education (the DOE) oversees and regulates American universities, though each state is responsible for its own higher learning authorization standards. Checking the course credentials can be a difficult task particularly if the institution is located overseas. In some countries unscrupulous and greedy “colleges” have been quick to claim to be “licensed” to run a college but their business is, in effect, a bogus degree mill, a fake college whos qualifications are worthless.

     In the US, States have different ways of regulating their colleges. Even in the US con artists and scammers, claiming to be legitimate e-universities, have been known to link their pages to the real sites of DOE or of the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Always check accreditation directly with the relevant body and do not assume that because of a link an institution is properly accredited.

     When looking into online college courses there are online resources offering a range of studies at accredited colleges. You can also also ask state or federal education authorities for a list of accredited colleges. Contact the examination board for the qualification you desire and verify that your choice of college is accredited and finally check with potential employers or industry bodies which qualifications they recognise. Most of the time this just takes a few emails but could save you a great deal of expence and grief.
 

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