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With the advent of the World Wide Web and the tsunami of opportunities that it brings with it, life as we know it, has become rather fast paced and dynamic. Communication and networking has advanced to a level that our generation could not imagine twenty years from now. This is primarily the reason why virtually every task that we think of, is becoming automated and computerized. From connecting with loved ones to attending conferences that are taking place at the other end of the world, the magic of fibre optics has made the world a big global village. Everyone has access to all types of information, on practically each and every subject that exists in the world. Such is the world of the internet.
Another advancement that is made possible with the spread of the internet includes online learning. Also known as e-learning, the concept of studying and acquiring professional degrees online is becoming common and widely accepted throughout the world.
The concept of traditional colleges and universities is being challenged by online graduate and post graduate degrees. This is mainly due to the fact that after the recession in 2008, there was a general consensus on the idea that cost cutting and efficiency is not a choice, but a necessity. With traditional degrees, there come attached a number of other expenses other than the tuition fee. Especially for international students, these include costs such as air fare costs, transportation and commuting costs, accommodation and living expenses, food and clothing expenses and entertainment costs. Moreover, the tuition cost is higher for international students as compared to domestic students. For this reason, the popularity of acquiring an online degree is in on the rise, as there are nearly three million students worldwide, who are enrolled in degrees that are online. Although initially there was an aura of mistrust among the critics of online learning, now the ideas are evolving and it is recognized that online learning is as fortifying and effective as traditional classroom learning.
The question is, why are online degrees gaining such rapid popularity .surely, cost cutting after the recession cannot be the only reason fuelling this concept.
- Why opt for an online degree?
So what is the reason for the rise in online education and learning worldwide? There is no doubt that online learning and degrees on the rise. According to a research conducted in 2013, it was shown that approximately 6.7 million post graduate students were enrolled in online degree programs, as compared to 1.6 million students in 2002. Moreover, with time, 62% of the schools and colleges are now awarding online degrees that operate on the principals of distance learning. so what are the reasons for this? There are several reasons for this; some of these are discussed in the following list:
- Variety of courses and programs:
Although there is a wide variety of different courses to choose from when it comes to traditional studies, the same is also true for online courses. With the commencement of online education, you can study anything and everything that you are passionate about, and want to pursue as a career. Moreover, degree options range from high school certifies to post graduate online degrees, confirming the popularity on online education.
- Reduced cost
As mentioned before, especially in the case of international students, online education brings innumerable benefits and perks, most of which are related to the cost of the degree program. Most online degree programs are low cost and offer the same courses and learning as that in a traditional classroom. Costs such as commuting costs, living costs and the cost of study materials is removed from the equation of online education. Moreover, some online universities tend to give their students extra credit hours for attending classes of another free online course.
- Comfortable and familiar learning environment
What more can a student ask for when the learning is acquired from the comfort of his or her bedroom. With online education, there is no concept of physical lecture sessions. Rather, the course content is shared online and is easily downloadable. One of the major upsides of this is that you can study at the comfort of your home, forwarding and rewinding any part of the lecture that you may have missed as well. Hence, the instruction and learning is more in-depth and thorough as compared to a traditional classroom.
- Convenience and elasticity
Connected to the point mentioned above, you can attend a lecture of your online degree program anywhere and everywhere, as long as you have an internet connection. Moreover, as mentioned before, course content is downloadable and you are able to visit and re-visit the audio and video files sent by the instructors whenever you feel the need. Furthermore, the timings that you choose to take out to attend your class vary according to your own availability and schedule, since the lectures are available online at all times.
- Greater interaction and concentration
With an online degree program, the fear of saying something irrelevant or wrong while the whole class has their eyes on you, is absent from the study and learning environment. However, online learning is also interactive because you get to connect with other people who are following the same passion as you do, sitting in another part of the world. With everyone having an equal chance of participation in an online degree program, the discussions and points discussed are more focused and meaningful. Whereas, in a traditional classroom, this is also possible, but there are other factors as well which may contribute to the nervousness of pupils and uncertainty of the discussion that is taking place.
- Career progression and continuation:
Some of us need to start our professional lives earlier than others. This could be due to a personal choice or due to the way you have prioritized your life. One of the biggest advantages of an online degree is that is caters to this situation. Since you can choose your own schedule and study time, it is possible for you to study and enrich your resume and persona with the help of the degree that you are pursuing, while continuing your professional life as well. You can study in-between the different jobs that you decide to work on, or even if you decide to be a home maker. Moreover, an online degree along with the career continuum could help explain any gaps in your resume that you wanted to have filled in.
- No more commuting problems:
Since you are studying from home and at home, it is possible to avoid commuting to your university or college, as you can study the course material at the comfort of your home or office as well. This not only saves time, but also contributes significantly in the cost cutting that comes with an online degree.
- improvement in technical skills:
As everything related to the course content is executed and worked upon on the internet, it is only natural for you to hit a high note on your technical skills. Even the most basic online degree demands computer skills as you are required to learn and explore different learning software. These computer skills are not only limited to the course content, but also to your professional role as an employee who is required to show efficiency in computer related tasks at work.
- transfer of credit hours made easy:
Sometimes, some universities offer courses during the summers. These courses are generally known as summer classes. The new trend in these extra summer courses has intrigued students to apply to colleges and universities that are far away from their own colleges or universities. Hence, with an online course or degree, enrolment into these courses has become more popular and sought after. The reason for this is that the credit hours of these online courses can be easily transferred to the primary college or university that the student is attending. However, it is important that the courses are taken from an accredited college or university so that the online course itself is accredited.
ACCREDITED ONLINE DEGREE PROGRAMS AND THEIR IMPORTANCE:
So what does it mean when one says that a college or university must be accredited? Why does a university have to be accredited in order for you to transfer your credits easily? It is important to understand what accreditation is and what its importance is when it comes to online degree programs.
- What is accreditation?
When choosing an online university or college and deciding to incur the costs associated with a particular online degree, it is important to make sure that the institution is accredited. In simple words, with an institution that is accredited, you have the security and guarantee that the education that you are seeking is quality assured and counts as something in the academic world. Directly put, accredited online degree programs, give you a confirmation that the university that is granting you your degree completion certificate is actually recognized by the educational community.
With the advantages of online education, it is necessary that these nuances be kept in mind before you decide to spend your money in hopes of becoming more educated and learned. Now that you know what accreditation is, it is important to understand why it is important to acquire an accredited online degree. This can be briefly viewed from three different perspectives:
From a student’s point of view, accredited online degrees provide the reassurance and comfort that you are registered in a study program that is bent upon delivering education that is continuously evolving with the recent times and is reviewed for its quality and practicality in the vocational world. That is to say that it meets all the national standards of education, which makes it as authentic and useful as a traditional classroom based degree.
From a teacher’s point of view, accredited degrees offered online are a source of an official procedure which aims at the evaluation of their teaching methods and content. This evaluation helps the faculty members strive for continuous excellence in the course content that they teach so that their students can make the most out of the degree that they are pursuing online.
- General Public:
From the general public’s point of view, online accredited degrees ensure that the institution is taking care of its duty towards the public and is taking care of the best interests of the citizens of its country. Moreover, it also demonstrates that the institute that is offering the online degree is conscious that its course content is parallel to its goals and objectives that are developed in the interest of academic progress of the students.
There are two basic types of accreditation, institutional accreditation and Specialized, professional, or programmatic accreditation. For a university offering successful online accredited degrees, it must have at least one of these accredit ions under its belt. These two types are used to measure the quality, assessment and assurance of academic institutions all over the world, including those which are offering online degree programs.
Related online courses and online classes resources:
- 10 Advantages To Taking Online Classes at http://oedb.org/ilibrarian/10-advantages-to-taking-online-classes/
- Why is accreditation important? at http://www.apa.org/support/education/accreditation/importance.aspx#answer
- Types of Accreditation at http://www.worldwidelearn.com/accreditation/types-accreditation.htm
Related external links:
- Study in the UK at CoursesUK.com