Online Education: How Valuable Is an Accredited Online Degree?
Online Education vs. Traditional Education
There’s a lot of discussion about whether an online degree, especially one from University of Phoenix is worth pursuing. Everyone, employer or future student considering online education, has to decide for themselves on the merits of online degrees. Here are some questions to think about:
- Can distance learning medium be as effective as traditional learning? Is it intrinsically a good medium for leanring?
- Are accredited online schools and programs as good as traditional schools and programs?
- Are online degrees accepted by employers and hiring managers?
Researchers Say Distance Learning and Traditional Learning Both Have Advantages and Disadvantages
Researchers suggest that “distance learning using computer-mediated communication” has a number of advantages: “elimination of space, time and geographical constraints; increased peer interaction; deeper critical reflection; and the ability to utilize effectively internet resources” (Vartouchi, 2007, p. 16).
Effective Learning Depends a Great Deal on Instructors
The quality of either online or traditional learning depends on the quality of the instructors (preparedness, skills, and abilities) - not on the teaching method.
I attended both traditional programs in Los Angeles City College and online programs in University of Phoenix. At LACC I took a journalism course that was highly unproductive. Throughout the course, the professor made us, the students, watch boring old documentaries recorded on VHS tapes. The only thing from this class I remember is the noisy air conditioner in the classroom.
A year later, I took an online class similar in content to the one I took at LACC. The class was delightful and the insturctor was well-prepared. He facilitated very productive class discussions - interactive learning really took place.
Are Accredited Online Schools as Good as Traditional Schools - - Accreditation vs Reputation
Effective distance education is possible. And that is one of the reasons why distance learning programs were accredited by national and regional associations in the United States. But the last word on whether a school is good goes to employers and managers.
Many Employers and Managers Look Down on Online Degrees
“Fifty-five percent of managers surveyed last year by Vault Inc., a career-information company, said they favored applicants with traditional degrees over ones with online degrees. Forty-one percent said they would give equal consideration to both types of degrees” (Carnevale, 2007).
Jonathan Adams, an associate professor at Florida State University’s College of Communications conducted a survey of 269 hiring managers - 96% of these managers said they’d choose the candidate with traditional degree (Carnevale, 2007).
Acceptance of Online Degrees Is Growing among Employers and Managers
Why the opinion of employers and managers is important? If you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer who needs to build some skills through online classes, you wouldn’t care about what they think. But the majority of people need a degree to get a job.
Usually employers who know least about online education and learning are the most skeptical but “the more they learned, researchers found, the more comfortable they were” with online degrees (Carnevale, 2007).
Some surveys showed a more positive attitude toward online degrees. According to Eduventures' Continuing and Professional Education 2005 report, 62% from 505 employers surveyed showed “favorable attitude toward online instruction and perceive the quality of online learning to have the same if not greater merit than classroom instruction” (Online Degrees, 2007).
In the United States online postsecondary education has experienced an unprecedented growth in recent years - "3 million U.S. students are currently enrolled, and the field is growing at an annual rate of 41%” (Albion, Ferding, Maddux, & Sprague, 2007). And as one working generation is replacing another, able online graduates who find their way as hiring managers or employers would have a different attitude to other online graduates.
Is an Online Degree Valuable After All?
Yes, if you achieve what you initially wanted to. If you know that the industries or companies regard an online degree as valuable or equally important as a traditional degree, then go for it.
Prestigious U.S. Universities and Online Degrees
None of the most prestigious universities in the United States –Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford or MIT offers a complete online degree. With today’s technology that allows almost all kinds of interaction, they have the ability and resources to develop complete distance learning programs. If these universities embrace such programs, the issue whether online education is inferior will disappear.
Do you think a university online degree can be as valuable as a traditional degree?See results without voting
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Albion, P., Ferding, R., Maddux, C. & Sprague, D. (2007). Journal of Technology & Teacher Education, 15(2), 157-166. Retrieved February 7, 2008, from EBSCOhost database.
Carnevale, D. (2007). Employers often distrust online degrees. Chronicle of Higher Education, 53(18). Retrieved February 7, 2008, from EBSCOhost database.
Garrison, D. R. (1997). Computer-conferencing: The post-industrial age of distance education. Open Learning, 12(2), 3-11
Online degrees increasingly gaining acceptance among employers. (2007). Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, 24(4), 50-50. Retrieved February 7, 2008, from EBSCOhost database.
Vartouchi, A. (2007). Distance education. Distance Learning, 4(2), 15-19. Retrieved February 6, 2008, from EBSCOhost database.