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I think this is the wave of the future. What does the Hive think? It could help combat the high college loan problem that seems to be just getting worse! In some respect, I think the success of home schooling has enabled this kind of thing to take off. Those awesome homeschoolers that are now out there in the world have shown that it can be done another way!

 

 

(I couldn't figure out how to link the article, so I copied it. By the way, this was from Yahoo News if someone wants to search it out.)

 

 

 

 

 

Florida approves online-only public university education

 

 

 

 


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By Bill Cotterell

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Reuters) - Public university students in Florida next year will be able to start working toward college degrees without actually going to college, under a law Governor Rick Scott signed on Monday in front of educators and business lobbyists.

The state-run University of Florida plans to start a series of online bachelor's degree programs next year, with $15 million start-up funds for 2014.

Until now full-time online education has just been available to elementary and high schools in the state.

"This bill transforms education in Florida," said House Speaker Will Weatherford, a Republican who has long been a proponent of "virtual learning" in public schools.

"Now, we will be home to the first fully accredited, online public research university institute in the nation," said Weatherford. "These bold higher-education reforms will help increase Florida's global competitiveness and ensure our students have meaningful opportunities after high school."

Colorado State University began offering online university courses in 2007, according to Kyle Henley, a university spokesman, though students must first have 13 credits from another university to be eligible.

California and Texas are also developing totally online university programs, while Illinois considered the idea and discarded it, according to a spokesman for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU)in Washington.

State Senator Bill Montford, a Democrat from Tallahassee who is executive director of the Florida Association of School Superintendents, said, "I haven't heard of any state that's moving as aggressively as Florida can" in online education.

The online courses will cost no more than 75 percent of in-state tuition for regular classes at the University of Florida.

The online university degree programs are part of an education package pushed by Scott and the state's Republican party leadership that they say will more closely link curriculums with the needs of employers.

The state's new education law also retreats in some areas from the toughened curriculum required in 2010, the year before Scott became governor. Students can select "scholar" courses, but others can focus more on job skills and will be able to graduate without passing tougher courses in math and science.

The governor, who campaigned in 2010 on a platform of creating 700,000 jobs in seven years through a series of business-friendly tax cuts and regulatory changes, has made job-oriented education and low tuition a big part of his economic development package.

Scott last year caused a stir by saying he did not want Florida's higher education system producing anthropologists or other specialized graduates whose main job prospect is teaching others to do what they do.

Before the session, he persuaded all 28 state colleges to come up with four-year bachelor's programs costing $10,000 or less in tuition, emphasizing skills sought by employers.

(This story is corrected with name of APLU in paragraph 7 to Association from American. Inserts paragraph 6 to clarify that Colorado also offers online courses)

(Editing by David Adams and Vicki Allen)

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I think this is the wave of the future. What does the Hive think? It could help combat the high college loan problem that seems to be just getting worse! In some respect, I think the success of home schooling has enable this kind of thing to take off. Those awesome homeschooler that are now out there in the world have shown that it can be done another way!

 

This topic has been discussed frequently. I do not believe online college is the future. It may be a way to a college degree, but it is not a substitute for a college education. I also do not think it has anything to do with homeschooling at all; merely with the technological advances that make recording and watching lectures online, sharing notes, using homework grading systems possible.

(It has always been possible for students to self-teach the content of a course from books and other resources and to request credit by examination. In eleven years of teaching, I had one single student make use of this option, and she had actually taken a class).

 

I am a college instructor, and I am rather skeptical. I see when my students learn. They do not learn in lectures; they learn through interaction with other students and a qualified instructor, through problem solving, labs etc. Online courses can replicate this to a certain extent, in certain subject - but not substitute for all students the interaction with live people.

 

I think online courses do have a place, but they will not replace a traditional college education.

 

ETA: The article about FL sounds scarily like dumbing down the college education. It sounds rather like turning college into vocational schools. No specialized academic subjects? No "harder" math and science? Sure, we can do a cheap degree by requiring less. I doubt less education is the way to be competetive for the future.

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There's nothing wrong with online degree programs. U of Illinois offers several to applicants who have already completed their Associate's degree. My mom, who lives and works almost 2 hours from the nearest university, completed the vast majority of her Master's online. I don't see it as a replacement, but as something to help those who would otherwise be unable to complete their degree.

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Having taught online courses, the pass rate is typically much lower than in a traditional class...if you keep content and difficult level the same. So you'll either have major grade inflation or a lot of enrollees not passing.

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This topic has been discussed frequently. I do not believe online college is the future. It may be a way to a college degree, but it is not a substitute for a college education. I also do not think it has anything to do with homeschooling at all; merely with the technological advances that make recording and watching lectures online, sharing notes, using homework grading systems possible.

(It has always been possible for students to self-teach the content of a course from books and other resources and to request credit by examination. In eleven years of teaching, I had one single student make use of this option, and she had actually taken a class).

 

I am a college instructor, and I am rather skeptical. I see when my students learn. They do not learn in lectures; they learn through interaction with other students and a qualified instructor, through problem solving, labs etc. Online courses can replicate this to a certain extent, in certain subject - but not substitute for all students the interaction with live people.

 

I think online courses do have a place, but they will not replace a traditional college education.

 

ETA: The article about FL sounds scarily like dumbing down the college education. It sounds rather like turning college into vocational schools. No specialized academic subjects? No "harder" math and science? Sure, we can do a cheap degree by requiring less. I doubt less education is the way to be competetive for the future.

 

 

 

That's interesting. I never thought about that. Just curious, what subjects do you teach? I am wondering if the course you teach makes you see this more than other courses. Do you think that some subjects might be just as effective on-line with other ones being required "in class" to get a full degree?

 

Also, what do you think the competition will do to the traditional college route? From what I have read, it seems like many people are entering college because (1) it's the next thing to do, or (2) the lack of availabilty of trade schools.

 

I'm wondering if more on-line stuff would free up some of the pressure on admissions so that only those who are really interested in learning go the traditional route.

 

Another thing I have been wondering is why the colleges are more interested in this? (Perhaps it is because of what you were indicating as to "how" students learn). It seems to me that if the colleges wanted to earn more money, they could do both "butt's in seat" kind of classes, but also online classes to capture all the countries that have populations that would like to have an education. (China comes to mind).

 

I didn't know this was discussed before, but I found it very interesting. Perhaps they will come up with a hybrid type of program where the first 2 years of GE could be done on-line, then the major course work would have to be done on campus. Seems like that would cut down on costs.

 

 

"The article about FL sounds scarily like dumbing down the college education. It sounds rather like turning college into vocational schools. No specialized academic subjects? No "harder" math and science? Sure, we can do a cheap degree by requiring less. I doubt less education is the way to be competetive for the future."

 

You are right on point with this. There should be a different route to take for a vocational type degree than for the "college" degree.

 

Thanks for the discussion.

Hot Lava Mama

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Having taught online courses, the pass rate is typically much lower than in a traditional class...if you keep content and difficult level the same. So you'll either have major grade inflation or a lot of enrollees not passing.

 

 

 

I find this really interesting. Any speculation as to why you think on-liners did worse? What kind of class was it?

 

Seems like there has already been grade inflation with the garbage going on in middle/high schools, so we don't want more of that!

Hot Lava Mama

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Just curious, what subjects do you teach? I am wondering if the course you teach makes you see this more than other courses. Do you think that some subjects might be just as effective on-line with other ones being required "in class" to get a full degree?

 

 

I teach physics.

I do not think any subject will be quite as effectively taught online, because of the way humans learn. Even with online office hours, help sessions on the tablet and discussion boards, there is no substitute for direct human interaction. We notice this on these boards already, how difficult it is to bring across the finer nuances of speech, irony, sarcasm, reassurance.

I can tell you that my class room atmosphere in a lecture hall with 90 students changes in a tangible way at the point when I know every student's name, at about the two week mark: I speak not to an anonymous audience, but to a collection of individuals, and that changes my lecturing; conversely, students do not feel that the teacher is some person who does not know them from Adam, but an individual to whom they have a personal relationship; this changes the way they listen. A student who is called by his name is engaged and held accountable to a much greater degree than a student enrolled in a class that gives anonymity.

 

Also, what do you think the competition will do to the traditional college route? From what I have read, it seems like many people are entering college because (1) it's the next thing to do, or (2) the lack of availabilty of trade schools.

I'm wondering if more on-line stuff would free up some of the pressure on admissions so that only those who are really interested in learning go the traditional route.

 

 

Maybe. I am not sure how much of the skills students need to learn in trade school type institutions can effectively be learned over the internet; I would rather suspect that they might need more hands-on training and personal interaction than students in purely academic disciplines.

 

Another thing I have been wondering is why the colleges are more interested in this? (Perhaps it is because of what you were indicating as to "how" students learn). It seems to me that if the colleges wanted to earn more money, they could do both "butt's in seat" kind of classes, but also online classes to capture all the countries that have populations that would like to have an education. (China comes to mind).

 

 

They do. There is a HUGE push at universities all over the country to jump on the online classes bandwagon, because it is cheap: you can enroll a lot more students without having to pay extra instructors or build more lecture halls. The problem is that the quality of the courses goes down and, more importantly, that the question then arises why a student should enroll at all and pay tuition, if he can participate in a MOOC from an elite institution like MIT or Yale without paying a dime. If universities want to remain competetive, they must have some added value to the online instruction, and that can only be the face to face interaction with professors who are experts in their field.

 

It is a trend many of us professors watch with grave concern. But when administrators are more concerned with the bottom line than with the quality of learning, it is inevitable that online courses with little interaction, little feedback from humans (instead of automated grading systems), and low expectations will become prevalent.

 

I didn't know this was discussed before, but I found it very interesting. Perhaps they will come up with a hybrid type of program where the first 2 years of GE could be done on-line, then the major course work would have to be done on campus. Seems like that would cut down on costs.

 

 

Yes and no. Certainly, online education can play an important role. But cutting presence college to a mere two years? Not the way to go.

 

The students who get most out of their university education are the ones who become involved in their departments, form study groups with other students, find friends. this is not about partying or the "college experience"; this is about the vital role a community of learners plays.

Our most effective teaching tool in the department is an open learning environment where the students come at certain times and work in groups on their problems. We have peer instructors (students who have excelled in the course and who receive specific training in pedagogy) who work with the students and guide them by Socratic questioning. Some of our undergraduates become involved in real research during their first year on campus.

Our students begin taking classes in their majors during their first or second semester. It is impossible in the technical disciplines to compress these into two years (see another thread I wrote in the College Board) and spend two years doing general requirements; you must spread the hard math and science classes over the entire four year span to give students enough time to absorb and process the material.

I do not know whether the situation is different in humanities.

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I find this really interesting. Any speculation as to why you think on-liners did worse? What kind of class was it?

 

 

Regentrude is absolutely correct with her comments.

 

I have taught college algebra online and developmental math. The students who will succeed in an online course are exceptional students who are highly motivated and really know how to work...or they are misplaced students who just need a credit. In the first case, they might be able to learn more in class where I can sometimes go on tangents and expand what we're doing..."Here's where you'll see this again in a later course." In the second case, online may be best (or an exemption exam).

 

I have an undergrad degree in English. If anything, I think humanities are even worse for online than math. You miss the exchange of ideas in person...it's a different vibe. Kind of like how a conversation via text or email is different than a conversation in person.

 

I think online learning is a potentially useful tool, but I don't want to see college degrees pulled down like high school degrees have been...and it feels like that's the direction we're headed in.

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I find this really interesting. Any speculation as to why you think on-liners did worse? What kind of class was it?

 

 

I am not Dana and have not taught online, but from what I see in my presence courses, the main obstacle for student success is work ethic. They fail not because they are not smart enough, but because they do not spend enough time on the course.

In my presence course, they are captive audience during the lecture, will be involved in direct interactions with peers and instructor during some classes, have to submit fully worked out homework that is graded in detail by a human who does not simply check the final answer, but the entire procedure and gives feedback on the steps of the process. If they are absent or fail to submit assignments, I will confront them face to face. This is an entirely different level of being held accountable.

 

So, my suspicion would be that a large disadvantage of the online courses is lack of accountability because it is more impersonal.

If the struggling student were watching the lectures at home on a screen, he would probably multitask and play a game in another browser window. If the online homework system just changes the numbers from student to student, clever students will work out a system taking turns deriving the formula (the actual work) and everybody has to just put his own numbers in. (If, heaven forbid, the *tests* are all taken online and graded through an automated system, that would remove the ability to ask content rich long questions and instead encourage a multiple choice exam, shudder.)

 

Now, a motivated student would be doing just fine. But the large portion of students that need to be nudged and coaxed would do worse.

Already, we have to give lecture quizzes to get them to read the book and collect homework to get them to do the homework - something a motivated student should not need. The reality is that the motivated student who does what he needs to do just because he wants to learn is in the minority. And the large portion of students who need to be redirected and reminded to work will probably do worse in online courses.

 

I have seen a department switch to an online system for an introductory science course and get an unrealistically high GPA. That can only mean that the assessment is dumbed down, because those same students perform much worse in other intro courses.

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Having taught online courses, the pass rate is typically much lower than in a traditional class...if you keep content and difficult level the same. So you'll either have major grade inflation or a lot of enrollees not passing.

 

 

I think online courses make it very easy for someone to enroll who doesn't really have the time or interest to work hard and do well in the course. I took a hybrid course last spring through my local community college. We met for 8 Saturdays during the semester and the rest of the course was online. Even with just meeting every other week, attendance was poor. Out of 20+ students (half of which were older than college age), I'd say maybe 1/4-1/3 attended every class. One student was consistently 30-60 minutes late, strolling in casually with the fast food he was eating (despite all the signs forbidding food).

 

I think an in person course forces students to consider more carefully if they have time for college. The students in my class apparently did not.

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It could help combat the high college loan problem that seems to be just getting worse!

 

 

The for-profit online colleges are some of the worst offenders with enrolling students who aren't prepared (academically or time-wise) and encouraging them to take out high loans. I've seen articles mentioning the graduation rates of these schools and they're atrocious.

 

A new report on graduation rates at for-profit colleges by a nonprofit research and advocacy group charges that such colleges deliver “little more than crippling debt,†citing federal data that suggests only 9 percent of the first-time, full-time bachelor’s degree students at the University of Phoenix, the nation’s largest for-profit college, graduate within six years.

 

The report, “Subprime Opportunity,â€

by the Education Trust, found that in 2008, only 22 percent of the first-time, full-time bachelor’s degree students at for-profit colleges over all graduate within six years, compared with 55 percent at public institutions and 65 percent at private nonprofit colleges.

 

 

 

 

This topic has been discussed frequently.

 

 

OP, check out the high school and college boards to find the rest of the frequent discussions about online education.

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Thank you very much to everyone who responded. Really thought provoking things I had not considered. I had been hoping that the whole "on-line" college thing would come soon enough so my oldest could go that route. Mostly because of the costs associated with eventually putting 5 kids through college. Now, however, I am leaning toward thinking he might be missing out on some important learning opportunities that he would need at the young adult age.

 

Another thing that I was thinking about was how different the world is right now for younger people compared to when I was the same age. Waiting in line, in a doctor's office, etc. was an opportunity to chat with someone new. Now, everyone's face is buried in some technology. I don't do that (mostly because we don't have a lot of the techy stuff) and neither do my kids. I have found that many young kids don't even know how to kill time and spark up conversations with someone they don't know! It's tough on my kids, too, because they can't catch someone's eye if they don't ever look up. I was wondering how this is going to play in the on-line college thing. It seems to me the younger generation is more comfortable NOT having the human interaction. I think that will have a dramatic impact on our society...not necessarily for the better.

 

Thanks again for the conversation, everyone!

Hot Lava Mama

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It really bothers me to see distance learning automatically shot down. It can be a good option for some students. I'm glad that Florida is offering this option.

 

As another poster mentioned, at real online colleges (not "pay to pass," for-profit colleges) a student has to be VERY self-disciplined and motivated to succeed. The courses aren't necessarily easier, and it provides access to a college education for those who, because of location, family responsibilities or work schedules simply cannot go to a traditional brick and mortar school.

 

My husband is one of those people. He's in his 2nd year at WGU (Business Mgt program). He can't be promoted to a better job without a degree, but he can't go to a traditional school for all the reasons I mentioned above. His written assignments are graded by a human, and his exams are remotely proctored (video camera on him and a dozen different procedures in place to prevent cheating. It'd be much easier to cheat in a traditional classroom.). He's not earning a fake degree. He's really learning.

 

Not all online colleges are created equal, but that's true of brick and mortar schools as well. I went to a private, accredited college that used a high school textbook in the introductory science class. It was a (very expensive) joke.

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I am not Dana and have not taught online, but from what I see in my presence courses, the main obstacle for student success is work ethic. They fail not because they are not smart enough, but because they do not spend enough time on the course.

 

 

Yup. This.

 

If you want to succeed in an online course, you cannot require hand-holding and you have to treat it like a second job. It's not for sissies.

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My kids really dislike most online courses. (Some courses are only offered by the uni as online options.). They say profs are harder to communicate with, lack office hrs, and they can't get the answers to questions they need. One class dd is taking this semester is also completely computer graded. She can't get any questions answered. She is so frustrated with that class a that she has sworn to never take another online class. Her hybrid class (1/2 online1/2 on campus) otoh has been a good fit. That teacher also has a 20 min online class meeting 1 x a week to clarify the syllabus/assignments/and let them ask questions. It is the only online college class my kids have taken with real online time interaction.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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My kids really dislike most online courses. (Some courses are only offered by the uni as online options.). They say profs are harder to communicate with, lack office hrs, and they can't get the answers to questions they need. One class dd is taking this semester is also completely computer graded. She can't get any questions answered. She is so frustrated with that class a that she has sworn to never take another online class. Her hybrid class (1/2 online1/2 on campus) otoh has been a good fit. That teacher also has a 20 min online class meeting 1 x a week to clarify the syllabus/assignments/and let them ask questions. It is the only online college class my kids have taken with real online time interaction.

 

 

That sounds horrible!

One thing that would be completely missing in recorded lectures is the opportunity to raise your hand and ask the one quick question which will enable you to understand the remainder of the lecture - instead of emailing the prof with the question after having wasted the entire time because of something you got hung up on in the first ten minutes (and then waiting for days to receive an answer). Students on campus can simply speak to their instructor briefly before and after class, or walk by the office and knock if they have a question.

 

20 minutes of interaction and questions per week is nice but very little. Aside from seeing my students four days a week in class and being available to answer questions for a few minutes before and after, I spend three hours each week answering student questions and helping students face to face with their assignments. THIS is the "added value" a university can bring to the students.

Just to put things into perspective: for each of our two large courses in engineering physics, our department offers ten hours of live help sessions with faculty in the Learning Center every week. (Plus another eight hours of student staffed tutoring).

 

If my department went the online route and eliminated this face-to-face interaction, I would stop teaching, along with many other professors who love teaching and the interaction. I would not want to be performing for a camera in an empty lecture hall and only know my students through their screen names. I would predict that going to online exclusively would dramatically alter the pool of instructors.

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I think it definitely has a place. Some of us just do not have the time (kids, jobs, etc.) or live waaaay too far to complete a degree. I'm going back to finish my BS this year online and I could not do it any other way. I've had very positive experiences with online classes in the past. My dh teaches at a college (chem), and I think part of it is that you get out what you put in. I'm a motivated self-learner and it works great for me. But if you're doing it to slack off, you'll obviously not do as well. Just like in any other class.

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I think it definitely has a place. Some of us just do not have the time (kids, jobs, etc.) or live waaaay to far to complete a degree. I'm going back to finish my BS this year online and I could not do it any other way. I've had very positive experiences with online classes in the past. My dh teaches at a college (chem), and I think part of it is that you get out what you put in. I'm a motivated self-learner and it works great for me. But if you're doing it to slack off, you'll obviously not do as well. Just like in any other class.

 

 

It definitely has its place for people who have a hard time making it to campus.

And it works if there is a support structure in place: how does your class provide a way to get help with assignments if you get stuck or discuss problems or get an explanation for a difficult concept? how often and in which form is your teacher available for direct interaction?

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I think online college programs are an excellent option, and I am glad they exist.

 

There can be plenty of interaction between students and instructors if the courses are well-designed and executed, and if the instructors are well-trained and highly involved. The biggest problems I can see with online courses are when classroom instructors think they can run their online classes the same way they run a regular classroom, and when they aren't properly educated in the realities of teaching and communicating online. It's also a huge problem when course designers think an online course is nothing more than putting a bunch of information and assignments online and calling it done.

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It definitely has its place for people who have a hard time making it to campus.

And it works if there is a support structure in place: how does your class provide a way to get help with assignments if you get stuck or discuss problems or get an explanation for a difficult concept? how often and in which form is your teacher available for direct interaction?

 

I will be starting at a new (State, not private) University this June. But in my last courses at two different colleges, I never had problems getting a quick response from my teacher via phone or email. I think I only ever needed to contact my professor once, though, because I had newly given birth and they wanted to do a field trip! Idk school comes easy for me, usually, so it's not really a problem.

 

Sorry for typos, my iPad hates me!

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And it works if there is a support structure in place: how does your class provide a way to get help with assignments if you get stuck or discuss problems or get an explanation for a difficult concept? how often and in which form is your teacher available for direct interaction?

 

These exact same issues exist in a classroom setting, as well. Haven't we all had at least a few instructors who weren't helpful, were rarely available to answer questions, were poor communicators, or who were just plain lousy teachers? Sure, there are wonderful teachers, but there are also quite a few duds. I don't think it's an online vs in-person issue. It's a quality issue, and there are quality classroom instructors and quality online instructors... and some lousy classroom teachers and lousy online instructors.

 

An online instructor who is doing his or her job properly spends a LOT of time on the computer, logged on to the courses he or she teaches, frequently checking emails and online messages, as well as monitoring and moderating threaded discussions.

 

I don't think there is necessarily a difference between online and classroom-based courses in the amount of interaction between students or between teachers and students. In fact, I think it's often easier to interact online than in person, because teachers and students can log on to their courses any time, 24/7, and often get quicker answers to their questions than if they'd been taking an in-person course, because they might not be in class again for several days.

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I find this really interesting. Any speculation as to why you think on-liners did worse? What kind of class was it?

 

I did my MBA on a hybrid online/class basis. The people in the course would meet once a week for a few weeks before the proctored exam for Q&A and revision. The people who sign up with this kind of MBA frequently travel for business. It was just easier for us to take annual leave for our exam dates than to make sure we can turn up for classes.

The main difference was time commitment. The online course takes up just as much time for studying and doing the work as a purely classroom course. However because there is no fixed class time, people are squeezing their readings and homework while on the plane, in between conference calls and anytime they can squeeze. When you (general) are taking a class in a classroom, that time is fixed and you are physically there to catch up on work. So if it is a 3hr a week evening class, you already set aside that time. When it is online, I could literally be doing my homework while manning the graveyard shift at my work (IT standby duty).

 

My kids are in virtual academy and their classes are online. It takes a certain amount of self- discipline to do it. At their age now, I am supervising.

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Another issue I haven't seen addressed yet was in one of the last discussions on this topic. The majority of employers view an online degree NEGATIVELY for a fresh new hire. In a difficult job market where there is plenty of competition for most jobs, this won't help.

 

For someone who has been on a job and merely needs a degree to check a box for advancement, then an online degree can be a terrific option, but they already have a job and that speaks for them. The degree is essentially not a component except for the technicality - then no one cares where it comes from.

 

There's no way at all that I would consider an online college degree for my guys. It'd be a waste of $$ IMO. Should I ever want to get my masters in teaching at some point (unlikely, but hypothetically), then I'd definitely consider online options - esp since we live rural.

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These exact same issues exist in a classroom setting, as well. Haven't we all had at least a few instructors who weren't helpful, were rarely available to answer questions, were poor communicators, or who were just plain lousy teachers? Sure, there are wonderful teachers, but there are also quite a few duds. I don't think it's an online vs in-person issue. It's a quality issue, and there are quality classroom instructors and quality online instructors... and some lousy classroom teachers and lousy online instructors.

 

An online instructor who is doing his or her job properly spends a LOT of time on the computer, logged on to the courses he or she teaches, frequently checking emails and online messages, as well as monitoring and moderating threaded discussions.

 

I don't think there is necessarily a difference between online and classroom-based courses in the amount of interaction between students or between teachers and students. In fact, I think it's often easier to interact online than in person, because teachers and students can log on to their courses any time, 24/7, and often get quicker answers to their questions than if they'd been taking an in-person course, because they might not be in class again for several days.

 

 

It's great that you've had some good online experiences. It may be the difference in school or in class type.

I'm teaching a traditional class this semester. Students have a practice final that's been available online all semester. It counts as a quiz grade and is designed to prepare them for the final exam. They can take it as many times as they want and the highest score is the one that counts.

Only 4 students (of 13) have taken it once. It's due by midnight Tuesday since the final is Wednesday.

 

At least these students will have Monday's class to ask any questions - and I only expect questions from a couple of them. The others will have the benefit of seeing the answers to the questions of the working students. Some of them will pass the final because of the mandatory attendance policy. Being forced to spend 4.5 hours a week in a classroom, they're spending regular time at least hearing about math and seeing problems worked. Participation in the online course is worse for this class. I've taught this exact class online and had students not do the assigned homework, only do quizzes immediately before the due dates, and many (over 2/3) ended up being dropped for missing tests.

 

Work ethic was mentioned earlier. Those of you who've had good experiences with online classes are seeing your experience as a student who works. There are a lot of other students you aren't seeing.

 

The online classes I have taken had way, way more interaction between the students than most brick and mortar classes I have taken. No one talks in class. The students seem much more comfortable "talking" online.

 

The arguments I read here that are against online studies are the same ones I hear which insist that a student can't possibly learn at home and has to be in the school building with the "good" teachers and other students in order to get a real education (and we all know that that's not true.) I also experienced an older boss years ago who just couldn't believe that I could work at home effectively even though I was 100% online all of the time. It's now ten years later, and I hear that staff members are working from home now.

 

 

For the online talking, I think it depends on the class and individual students. I've taught classes where we've had a LOT of online discussion on the discussion board and I've had classes where there's almost no discussion. It really varies according to the individuals involved.

 

The comparison between online learning and homeschooling is an interesting one and does have some validity. But the number of people who can homeschool effectively is much much lower than the number of students. No one is (or should be) proposing that all students homeschool (or that all courses are taught online). Online learning absolutely can be effective and successful for some students. As an instructor who's taught both online, hybrid, and traditional courses, the number of students who can effectively learn in an online course is very small in my experience.

 

Do I think online courses shouldn't exist? Absolutely not.

Do I think they're expanding faster than they should & that we're setting students up for failure in many cases? Yes!

 

I wouldn't mind my son taking a couple of online courses in the process of getting his college degree. I wouldn't pay anything for an online only degree though.

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I've had experience taking online graduate level courses, which were more like correspondence courses in that there was a reading list and a list of writing assignments and the writing assignments were submitted online. For me personally, the experience was a good one, but not because I learned much about the subject matter. Since the writing load was so extreme, it forced me to write at a challenge level over a period of about six months, which for me is pretty difficult to achieve as I was a professional scientific writer in a former life. It gave me some great insight into the struggles my children were facing in learning to write and made me a *much* better teacher for them. But that certainly wasn't the goal of any of the classes!

 

 

Having experienced both online/correspondence and in-person college courses, I definitely prefer the in-person version. However, I am grateful that the online option exists as I live in a place where it is a 1.5-2 hour commute each way if I want to attend an in-person graduate program. At this point in my life, with children to raise, that sort of commute is not possible for me.

 

Keep in mind that for many schools, it is not possible to tell whether a person completed an online or in-person degree.

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The arguments I read here that are against online studies are the same ones I hear which insist that a student can't possibly learn at home and has to be in the school building with the "good" teachers and other students in order to get a real education (and we all know that that's not true.) ...

There are just so many other resources and avenues of learning available now, and knowledge is no longer the domain of the learned few in a brick building.

 

That, again, depends entirely on the field.

Most students will not have lab equipment that costs half a million dollar or computer clusters with 200 nodes in their basement. The will have to resort to the brick building to be taught how to work with those tools.

(And I personally would not want a surgeon with an online education to operate on me, even when simulators have gotten pretty good.)

 

Already at the high school level, I find that most students are incapable of self-studying physics. At college, the strong students can maybe self-teach the introductory material, but will need expert help with more advanced concepts. Even the strongest students have misconceptions and require the interaction with the "learned few". In some areas, knowledge is pretty specialized.

 

Even among the experts in the field, email and online communication and cooperation does not fully replace face-to-face interaction. The benefit of spending a few days in the physical company of your collaborators is huge and always gives a boast in productivity; that's why scientists travel (not for sight seeing). (And trust me, my colleagues are all computer savvy and communicate online a lot.)

 

Online communication IS a valuable tool; but no, I do not believe that you can get the full benefit of a university education without setting foot on a physical campus. At least most definitely not in my discipline.

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An online instructor who is doing his or her job properly spends a LOT of time on the computer, logged on to the courses he or she teaches, frequently checking emails and online messages, as well as monitoring and moderating threaded discussions.

 

I agree. OTOH, if the instructor puts in this much time, he can not teach massive courses with thousands of students. I doubt it will be much cheaper IF you keep class sizes so that the instructor can interact to the level you describe, can answer questions and give personalized feedback on the students' work.

Of course massive courses are cheap - but you have to give up the instructor interaction. Nobody is evaluating several hundred homework sets or essays each week. Not possible.

 

If the objective is to save cost, the instructor's time is the first that has to be cut.

 

ETA: Here is an excellent example: please have a look at the current discussion on the High School board about the AoPS online courses. The courses are fabulous, but because of the increased enrollment, they had to cut back on the detail and promptness of the grading feedback. Several posters describe their experiences and regret the change because it negatively affects their students' learning.

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Most of mine were online. I had one where you had to have a webcam enabled to make sure it was "really you", and a few where I had to travel to take proctored exams. All of my exams were timed, so you couldn't just study while taking the test. With internet delays, that sometimes got stressful. You could cheat in a classroom, too. Dh had 6 students guilty of plagiarism in his current Intro Chem class alone, two for copying an exam and the other four copied lab reports. I would say most of my science and math courses at college allowed a "cheat sheet" during exams where you could write down some formulas or conversions on a notecard, so really no different than at home.

 

As far as employers looking at them being from diploma mills, I agree. So that's why it's important to pick programs at REAL universities that are not crazy expensive and also have real, professional teachers. Your diploma would look exactly the same as someone attending brick and mortar classes that way, too. I have heard many bad experiences with diploma mills. I only take online courses through accredited public colleges/universities.

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For those of you who have taken an online college class, how do they handle the exams? I imagine you can't just sit down at your computer and take a test, because the potential for cheating would be astronomical.

 

 

I took my exams on-site. The lecturer who taught the course was there to proctor the exam as well as an admin personnel who was there just to prevent cheating (like lecturer helping us). Since my MBA course was aim at working adults who can only commit to taking leave for their exams that works well. I had exam leave as part of my work benefits in two IT MNCs that I worked for.

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I had one where you had to have a webcam enabled to make sure it was "really you",

 

 

Question: how do they know it is "really you"?

I know, I also assume that the student who attends my class daily for a semester is who he claims he is (and he looks somewhat alike to the ID photo on the computer), but I'd figure nobody is going to go to that much trouble to take the class for somebody else. Exams, OTOH - all too easy if the instructor does not know the students.

So, how do they know?

 

 

Funny story as an aside: I once had a student whom I had never seen before sit in the middle of my 90 students on exam day and claiming he was in my class and there to take the test. Sorry, nice try - it was a few weeks into the semester and I knew he did not belong. (He insisted on staying anyway; I seated him in the front row, he put a fake name and non existent student ID number and failed. So whoever had the bright idea to send him to swap exams would have earned a very low F)

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For those of you who have taken an online college class, how do they handle the exams? I imagine you can't just sit down at your computer and take a test, because the potential for cheating would be astronomical.

 

 

I took an online class this semester as part of my on-campus degree. Exams are taken on campus at the school testing center or if people live too far away from campus, they need to find a proctor.

 

 

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Question: how do they know it is "really you"?

I know, I also assume that the student who attends my class daily for a semester is who he claims he is (and he looks somewhat alike to the ID photo on the computer), but I'd figure nobody is going to go to that much trouble to take the class for somebody else. Exams, OTOH - all too easy if the instructor does not know the students.

So, how do they know?

Funny story as an aside: I once had a student whom I had never seen before sit in the middle of my 90 students on exam day and claiming he was in my class and there to take the test. Sorry, nice try - it was a few weeks into the semester and I knew he did not belong. (He insisted on staying anyway; I seated him in the front row, he put a fake name and non existent student ID number and failed. So whoever had the bright idea to send him to swap exams would have earned a very low F)

 

 

Lol Dh hasn't had that happen yet! But he usually has 30 students, at most, to a class. I've never taken an online course with more than that many people, either. As far as how they'd know...who would really want a picture of themselves as proof if they did cheat and take a test for someone? Also, we had photo id's for classes, so I'm assuming since it was digitized, that my teacher would have a picture of me if my test results stood out compared to my papers, other work, and discussions. I'm sure people still find a way out of it. But then again, those people probably won't make it far in college or careers, anyway.

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I think online degree programs have their place. I personally have three degrees that I worked very hard for through online universities. I've also considered going back for a doctorate online. Two of my degrees look no different on paper than the physical campus option so an employer wouldn't even know the difference unless I said something. With that said, I've attended four different online universities and they were not all equivalent in expectations or quality. I choose to change to schools with harder expectations because I was looking for a challenge and to really learn the material. Dismissing online programs because they are online is not the answer. I skated by in physical school MUCH more than I did in online school because I had to know the material when online and I was much more driven online. I hate to say it but I never even bothered buying the textbooks when I was on a physical campus because I never needed them to get A's. With that said, I am not a classroom type learner. I would much rather read 4 textbooks, research, research, research, find people doing the thing I'm learning about and talk to them then sit in a classroom week after week and discuss the "theory" of what I'm learning about.

 

I also would never have been able to complete my degrees at a physical campus. My husband is military which means we move alot. I would have found myself retaking things that didn't transfer or taking things just to fulfill the "so many credits must be earned on our campus" multiple times. It also wasn't cheap. I still have student loans and paid almost what I would have at the campus. The only real difference was the housing cost (but not really because I was still paying to live in my own house if that makes sense).

 

When it comes to school in general, you get what you put into it - online or in physical attendance. If you want to learn, you will. If you seek out knowledge, you'll find it. If you are just there to get a piece of paper, that is probably all you'll get out of it. And I've seen many people on both ends of that spectrum. You also get what you pay for. Finding a school with high standards in either medium is essential. Finding local people that you can connect with to discuss what you are learning so you aren't in a bubble is also essential.

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My DD "sat in" on a UF professor's class (in zoology) this year as he tried to figure out what he could do to make it accessible online, after he met her at a conference and asked if she'd be interested. She was able to watch the lectures remotely and IM questions to the professor so they could be addressed in real-time, and participate in class that way. It was a nice experience, especially for a very young student who would have had a hard time in a college classroom otherwise. She didn't do most of the written assignments or exams-the class had a field work component and while she could watch that on a video feed and hear the professor's commentary, it's nothing like actually being in the field and observing animals there-and I also don't think he had the logistics worked on in that regard yet.

 

It was a great experience for her,and she's very excited about eventually attending college as a "real" student.

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Keep in mind that for many schools, it is not possible to tell whether a person completed an online or in-person degree.

 

 

On paper there is no difference (though some names are prominent). In interviews when asked about college, classes, labs, and general college life (all easily done in small talk) it's pretty easy to tell.

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In interviews when asked about college, classes, labs, and general college life (all easily done in small talk) it's pretty easy to tell.

 

 

I was responsible for hiring many, many people back in the dawn of time, and I can't remember when I would have discussed such things with any of them in an interview. These interviews were mostly for jobs in a biochemistry lab so most of the discussion would have been focused on previous laboratory experience (but not experience with laboratory *classes* as I always assumed that that was pretty much generic).

 

Of course, since this was the dawn of time, I wasn't exactly trying to detect online degrees.

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DH received his graduate degree in Systems Engineering through online schooling from a major engineering university. He's glad he did it that way because they had a lot of group projects that had to be coordinated using various forms of technology for project management and presentations. Soon after graduation he got a job with a major software coorporation and that's how most of his work is done because everyone on his team is spread all over the US. There is something to be said about the type of training online courses can offer. In his case, it modeled what his day-to-day life was going to be like working remotely.

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An OB nurse friend of mine is getting her Master's degree completely online (except for clinicals). She is the most amazing nurse I've ever seen (she assisted in the delivery of both my children). She will then qualify to teach. Wouldn't have happened without online education. I'm all for it. If a person isn't motivated and a hard worker, what are they doing in college? While I do see the value of socractic discussion, it can be had online. And, I've sat in plenty of college classes (as a student) with 149 other people. The instructor didn't know everyone by name.

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Of course, since this was the dawn of time, I wasn't exactly trying to detect online degrees.

 

And this, according to employers in our circle, is what makes all the difference.

 

(I also just want to add - again - that I've seen NO discrimination toward folks already on the job getting an online degree to advance in their job. When one has job experience, it trumps the degree - other than needing one. When one is a new hire, it doesn't - IME. YMMV)

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As I read through this thread, I find that many of the questions or concerns regarding online coursework comes from math and science people. Technology keeps changing, of course. But back in the day when math courses were going online, the greatest problem I heard repeatedly was that more time was spent learning how to enter mathematics symbols than learning the subject material. It was a source of huge frustration.

 

A fellow who works for my husband's employer was working on his online degree from a school that has a longer history with these programs. The university also has a physical building to which he traveled for final exams. His regular exams could be proctored by his work supervisor or a librarian--there was a list of qualified people. He was taking a Calc II class which he felt was impossible to do online. In addition to the classroom component, there was the student conversational space. But students with keyboards who really did not understand the mathematics involved had a hard time communicating with each other virtually. He had taken other classes like political science that were more conducive to these chat spaces. (He paid me handsomely to be his tutor--as I said the online nature of the course did not work for him.)

 

Several people have mentioned hybrids. My son took a history class as a hybrid at our CC. He was a dual enrolled student who already had experience with some of the technological tools like Blackboard. My son loved the lectures on his classroom day. There was more assigned reading than in his fellow's traditional classes but it seemed that the students were on their own to make connections. I am not sure though if it was the online nature that was at fault here. I think the professor was not engaging technology as he could have.

 

And that is perhaps part of the problem. I know one prof at our regional state university who only teaches online. Perhaps these courses take a different mindset than those of us who have taught in traditional classrooms have?

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For those of you who have taken an online college class, how do they handle the exams? I imagine you can't just sit down at your computer and take a test, because the potential for cheating would be astronomical.

 

 

At WGU, you have a video camera on you and someone watching the whole time. The camera view has to show specific things (the desk, you, maybe other parts of the area?). You're allowed scratch paper for some exams, but you have to show each paper (front and back) to the proctor. You also have to type a sample passage, and their software measures the rhythm and speed of your typing (kind of like a typing fingerprint) while you're taking the exam. You cannot talk (or appear to talk) to anyone. Once DH was working on a question that was confusing, so he read it out loud to himself and the proctor stopped the exam, and DH had to call in and explain why his lips were moving. In fact, the test will be stopped if the proctor has ANY concerns about the situation. The room has to be absolutely quiet, no one else can be in there; the girls and I are exiled for the couple of hours that he's testing. I'm pretty sure there are other safeguards, but I can't remember them all.

 

Meanwhile, in the brick-and-mortar history class he took at the community college, students were going outside "to use the restroom" and texting and calling people on their cells to get answers to questions.

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I just finished an online degre. Literally. I took my final final exam yesterday. It was a means to an end, and NOTHING like my undergrad degree in terms of providing the non-academic portinon of my education and growth as a person.

 

I certainly hope that this is not teh wave of the future. Our society spends wy to much time in a virtual world as it is and needs to incresae, not decrease face to face , human interaction.

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On paper there is no difference (though some names are prominent). In interviews when asked about college, classes, labs, and general college life (all easily done in small talk) it's pretty easy to tell.

 

Lol I am not "that" old, but my college experience had zero to do with any of my interviews, except for my lab job where they asked to make sure I did labs (even though they had my transcript). That's it. And dh also has never had it come up in 15+ higher ed job interviews.

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Another issue I haven't seen addressed yet was in one of the last discussions on this topic. The majority of employers view an online degree NEGATIVELY for a fresh new hire. In a difficult job market where there is plenty of competition for most jobs, this won't help.

 

For someone who has been on a job and merely needs a degree to check a box for advancement, then an online degree can be a terrific option, but they already have a job and that speaks for them. The degree is essentially not a component except for the technicality - then no one cares where it comes from.

 

There's no way at all that I would consider an online college degree for my guys. It'd be a waste of $$ IMO. Should I ever want to get my masters in teaching at some point (unlikely, but hypothetically), then I'd definitely consider online options - esp since we live rural.

 

When I was looking into a degree with an online program, the diploma was no different than the diploma issued to students on campus. When I finally get around to having the time to dedicate to it, it won't say I've graduated from XYZ University Online Program.

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Oh, and I hear tell that the community college in my town does not have live instructors. It is all done via video conference. The instructors are down in Bangor or over in another campus of the state university. Not a lot of student-teacher interaction going on there. I can see where an online class with live chat, message boards and email would be more helpful than video conferences.

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On paper there is no difference (though some names are prominent). In interviews when asked about college, classes, labs, and general college life (all easily done in small talk) it's pretty easy to tell.

 

Why would anything like that come up in interviews? :confused: I never had an interviewer chat with me about my "college experience" in any way, shape, or form -- and I have interviewed many, many potential employees and have never thought to ask them about college, even if they were recent graduates.

 

Perhaps it depends on the type of job for which a person is applying. I can't imagine anyone being questioned about labs unless he or she was applying for a job as some sort of scientist, and chances are pretty good that if they majored in a scientific field, they were required to take in-person classes.

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Perhaps it depends on the type of job for which a person is applying. I can't imagine anyone being questioned about labs unless he or she was applying for a job as some sort of scientist, and chances are pretty good that if they majored in a scientific field, they were required to take in-person classes.

 

I think this may be the key. We're in Engineering circles and employers want to know kids worked on things (projects, labs, etc). I don't think they particularly care about "the college experience," but it's a great way to know if the graduate was actually on campus working with the equipment, etc. Many are also turning to interns (to hire) - who they get from campuses they already respect.

 

If a job just needs "a" degree - not a "specific" degree, then I can see why employers wouldn't care. Personally, I seldom know why those jobs "need" degrees, but that's a different issue. If one needs to know what they were doing, the perception is still that it's better from a live instructor/class/labs, etc. Even then, employers I know have their preferences as to which colleges they like too (for new hires). To my knowledge, there's no requirement that one live at the college in a dorm or anything like that.

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This is interesting. So often we hear that the name of certain colleges on a resume will open doors--yet some posters here suggest that no one cares about the college. That fascinates me.

 

Frankly I think the elephant in the room (or--more accurately--in the thread) is whether the online college is a for-profit online school or a brick and mortar that offers online programs (as most do these days). In the latter case, the degree reads from the brick and mortar. Does this degree carry more weight than one from the for-profits? I think it might.

 

I recall reading about nursing degrees from one of the for-profits that had no hands on lab experiences. Students were failing licensure exams at astounding rates--yet the sales pitches continued on advantages to their online program.

 

Buyer beware, of course.

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