Online colleges fall into the academic category of distance learning. Distance learning can be defined as an area of the academic world where teaching can be delivered to students, not based within the traditional setting of a school or classroom. Distance learning can take place either via one to one sessions, online collaboration or phone sessions.
Conferencing can be utilised for a group of students who fall under the same circumstances and want to complete the same online degree. These online colleges are directed towards students who cannot or do not want to attend a traditional bricks and mortar college. This may be due to a particular condition or situation such as; a disability, full-time parenting, mature students or people with full time occupations. Some online colleges require their students to occasionally make a physical appearance for a variety reason which may include examinations or monthly tutorials. These types of college offer courses that are referred to as being ‘hybrid’ or ‘blended’ courses which select elements from a traditional based college scheme and combine it with the modern online college scheme.
Online colleges mainly use two types of learning technique. The first is known as ‘synchronous’ which can include videoconferencing, educational TV and web conferencing, all of which give the students a sense of community. This technique also involves working together with other students. This type is similar to that of the standard classroom based teaching method. There is usually a timetable which requires set dates with very little flexibility.
The second type of learning technique is known as ‘asynchronous.’ This is a more flexible way to study where it is the student’s responsibility to gain access to course material in their own time and at their own pace. Students do not have to work with each other and do not have to gather at a selected time unlike with the ‘synchronous’ teaching technique. This type of teaching is generally delivered using older technologies such as postal mail, phone and even fax. Internet colleges provide a variety of degrees ranging from Associate to Doctorate depending on the student’s past educational level.
People often choose online degrees as they offer lower cost services for a more adaptable style of teaching. The question to ask is “are online degrees equal to that of traditional bricks and mortar college based degrees?” Most employers will accept online degrees as long as they have been attained from a legitimate and accredited online college.
In addition, online degrees can be accepted by certain universities for students transferring or wanting to take graduate courses. In 2009 a study was carried out by the Department of Education showing that students who achieved an online degree, performed better than students originating from traditional degree programs. When considering an online college make sure it has been accredited by the Department of Education, for the country in which it is based.
Online colleges offer a chance for people who never imagined that they would be able to achieve a degree or any sort of extra qualifications after leaving school, and they open up a world of opportunities to people who maybe never believed that they could succeed.