It's no secret that more and more people are looking to the internet for a convenient way to further their education. Online classes are a great way to obtain an accredited college degree from home and continue to work a full time job. Many times a student can attend classes from their computer and schedule those classes around their job. Some schools allow the student to login to a class at their convenience. Imagine taking a class from the comfort of your own home and not having to deal with parking problems, child care, lunch, or transportation expenses.
You can also get an online degree from top, accredited online colleges and online schools that may not be available in your local area. An online education is also a great option for non-traditional students, the handicapped, people in remote areas, and people with a full-time job or a schedule that doesn't allow for a traditional education.
Distance education can be delivered in several ways. We will examine two of the many ways education can be delivered via the internet.
One of the most common is through live media. In this type of online classroom, students typically login to a chat room type environment that allows not only for text chat but also live audio chat, similar to many of the popular “instant messaging” programs that are widely used today. The lecture can be heard through the computer speakers or through a set of headphones. The students communicate with the teacher and other students by text chat or simply by talking into a PC microphone. The teacher can also allow students to view him/her in a smaller window on the monitor via a webcam. The lecture can also be recorded and posted to the school website to allow students to listen to the lecture and review the material at a later time according to their schedule, and as many times as necessary.
This type of online class makes it necessary to be at the computer at a scheduled time each day.
One advantage to this type of online college classroom environment is the student receives live instruction with structured classes. It is well known that students working within in a structured setting have a higher probability of success of finishing their degree. An obvious disadvantage would be lack of scheduling flexibility.
Another variation of the online classroom setting involves text messages such as email and message boards. Each class may share a group mailbox or a message board system, which becomes the “electronic classroom”. The instructor generally posts lectures on the topic of study, posts the assignments, and provides discussion questions related to the topic. The student can view lectures, notes from the instructor and other students, and assigned projects. The student can also post messages or questions to the instructor and other students.
One advantage of this system is 24 hour access to course materials and the ability to work at one's own pace without regard to scheduling. A disadvantage would be lack of direct contact with the instructor.
In both scenarios students are expected to logon to the class site a certain number of days per week. Students also can contact the instructor via e-mail to ask questions or receive answers. When assignments are due, students send them to the instructor online or by email, where they are graded and returned. Students may also have access to their individual performance reports by logging in to a website where that information is posted. Test may also be taken online. Typically, online classes last five to six weeks.
Although the degree of difficulty is the same for the online classroom as in a traditional setting, the internet has broken down many barriers and is providing educational opportunities for people worldwide that were not previously thought possible.