The Intelligent Internet

Online Learning gives student the Edge:

In the 21st Century, the concept of continuing education is recognized as being a necessary way to progress your career. A college degree is accepted as being almost essential to progression and 75% of managers have some form of higher learning. However, the process of acquiring a college degree can be a daunting one, especially if you are already working. Schools like University of Phoenix, DeVry University, Walden University, and Grand Canyon University recognize this and design their online degrees programs especially for continuing education for the busy professionals.

There are benefits to online learning that are not immediately obvious. For some people, studying online allows them access to techniques and information that they would not otherwise use with a more traditional college campus education. An online program format also allows greater flexibility in terms of perusing and manipulating information, and the use of associated software tools can aid analysis and synthesis - the basis of the continuing learning process in higher education.

Online learning is a relatively new concept, although University of Phoenix offered their first online course in 1989. Other established institutions have followed suit, as well as dedicated online schools, such as Kaplan University and Ellis College. Studies have discovered some interesting issues associated with it. Long and Javidi carried out a comprehensive study in 2001, which compared online learning with traditional college classroom programs. In particular, they examined the effectiveness of the method, and the test results of students.

They found significant differences in the way that students tackled assignments online and communicated with their instructors. Many online students gained higher marks because of the flexibility of online learning, and because much of the interaction with instructors was written. This meant that they could study the replies to their queries over time, missing nothing out. This could be of particular benefit to students inexperienced in the discipline required to complete a higher education.

Other studies have explored student satisfaction with online programs. For example Enockson (1997) found that students were satisfied with online learning (in a University setting) because it provided flexibility and responsiveness to their learning requirements and expectations.

Linda Cooper undertook a study of online and traditional college learning during the 1999-2000 academic session. When asked to comment on the advantages of online classes or the "most helpful feature of online instruction," over 80% of the students stated that online classes enabled them to better manage work and school, and they liked being able to learn at a self-directed pace. The primary reasons they chose to take their course online were "convenience" and "flexibility" especially for the concept of continuing education.

Many students commented that online instruction enabled them to be personally responsible for their own learning and determine for themselves the amount of time they needed to achieve expected outcomes and meet program requirements. In fact, a majority of students who enrolled in the online class stated that they used computers frequently and did not want to be held back by the pace of traditional class instruction.

Student satisfaction is evident in these studies, but what about outcomes? Overall, there is little difference in the percentage pass rate. But Enockson found that online learning allowed a better pass rate for students who are studying whilst they work. He proposed that the reason for this is that these students are effectively allowed to keep their own timetable. Thus, they are able to study more efficiently, getting the maximum done in the least amount of time.

Online degree programs have proliferated exponentially during the last five years. There is now a wider than ever choice of subjects, syllabuses and institutions offering online formats. Students are able to choose precisely according to their requirements, with associated greater chances of success in their chosen field.

As soon as you have a college degree qualification, job prospects change dramatically. According to the US Department of Labor, all but 2 of the 50 highest paid occupations require a college degree for entrance. All seven of the employment categories forecast for above average growth require a post-secondary vocational or academic award, and these categories will account for two fifths of the economic growth up to 2010.

Investing in your future career makes sense. An online degree gives you a chance for continuing your education and make this investment without losing income and, in many cases, can give you a better education than other study methods. Make the Internet your personal tutor today and let an the online degree give you the edge over your peers.

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