Earning Your Graduate Degree Online?
When it comes to a post-graduate’s choices regarding higher education, it pays to do the research. With the cost of tuition at conventional universities, as well as all of the ancillary expenses, many people seeking their higher degrees will want to weigh their options when looking for a master’s education graduate degree.
The ability to utilize today’s sophisticated technology, combined with the current economic climate, has made online learning (sometimes called “e-learning”) the preferred choice for a growing number of adult learners when it comes to attending a graduate program. Most students nowadays have engaged in some sort of distance education, whether it was a continuing education course or using an online tutorial, and more people are finding this way of obtaining their master of education degree extremely flexible and an easy fit for current lifestyle. The convenience and accessibility of online learning, as well as the study tools provided, are unequaled by conventional classroom education.
Online education began to grow in popularity in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, as computer educational technology was developed for the home user. However, computer-based learning really started in the early 1960’s with experiments at Stanford University. And the concept of “distance education” has been around since at least as early as 1728, with the advent of correspondence classes offered through the mail.
Though most homes in the U.S. now have at least one computer with internet access, for those who do not have access, free access is usually available at public libraries and in many coffee shops, or for a nominal fee at internet cafes. Most American adults are proficient using computers and the internet, especially if they have already obtained an undergraduate degree, whether online or on-ground.
With online courses, graduate degree resources are unique to the curriculum, and are available at the student’s fingertips -- literally. This one aspect of online education, alone, could ensure the success of a student that may not be able to complete a graduate degree course of study in an on-ground setting.
Consider these statistics:
- A reported 20.4%, or about 4.3 million, students had completed some distance learning and/or taken at least one online course. This number had risen from 16% in 2003-04.
- A reported 3.7% of all students did their entire course study online.
- Some 22.1 % of all students enrolled in college courses say they participated in a majority of it via distance education, and
- More than 8.7% completed their entire curriculum via online learning.
Many of the most prestigious, accredited colleges and universities offer graduate and post-graduate degree programs online. The most recent statistics show that more master’s degrees and graduate degrees are obtained online than any other degree, according to the IES National Center for Education Statistics – US Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences.
The most obvious way that distance learning education differs from the conventional classroom setting is the in-person social interaction. While some prospective students have shared concern that face-t-face is an essential part of higher education and learning in general, research does not reflect this. Studies show that regardless of where someone attends classes, a student is more likely to succeed if he or she has a strong support system. In most conventional higher education venues, students often “fall through the cracks.” This can be for a number of reasons, some of which are social, but often it’s difficult for a student to have the time and energy to avail themselves of their resources.
1. Cohort Programs
Many online degrees are earned through what’s called cohort work. A cohort is a coalition of students that forms for the purpose of taking a curriculum together and consequently attain their degrees together.
The cohort model does provide a certain social element to the learner’s experience, so the friendship and encouragement aspects are present. But as a learning implement, it is invaluable to all members of the group.
2. Learning Platforms
The learning platform, a virtual aggregate of the course study, is integral to online education. It is a sophisticated, integrated set of online tools and services that are completely interactive. Each one is tailored to the curriculum and therefore, unique to at least some extent.
The learning platform also enables the student to create their own individualized PLE (Personal Learning Environment). Related to and including cohort work, the PLE is a larger web of interconnected collectives, communities and resources centered around the learner. It provides social and study support that goes beyond the curriculum. The PLE is the learning platform tailored to the learner and enables him or her take complete control of their education.
Cohort work combined with the learning platform is a formula for the successful achievement of the next academic degree.
Getting a graduate degree via online learning has never been easier, more cost-effective or more popular. Students, schools and employers are all continuing to see the benefits of what an online graduate degree can do to develop and support educational leaders.