online colleges, online classes, online education, online degrees, classes online

One of the greatest things about taking courses online is the fact that individuals have the flexibility to learn and do their homework at anytime and from anywhere. As long as students have an internet connection and a computer they can learn. This means students don’t have to relocate or change their work and family schedules, because online education caters to working adults and their lives.

Growth of Online Education
During the fall 2007 term, “over 3.9 million students took at least one online course. Online enrollments grew by 12.9 percent which far exceeded the 1.2 percent growth for the overall higher education student population.” ((Allen, Elaine, and Jeff Seaman. "Online Education in the United States, 2008." Staying the Course. The Sloan Consortium and the Babson Survey Research Group, 2008. Web. 28 Apr. 2010. <http://www.sloanconsortium.org/sites/default/files/staying_the_course-2.pdf>.)) There are many students in online classes and most are pursuing their degree. “Approximately 80% of online students are at the undergraduate level with only 14 percent taking graduate level courses and the remaining 6 percent are in some other for-credit courses.” ((Allen, Elaine, and Jeff Seaman. "Online Education in the United States, 2008." Staying the Course. The Sloan Consortium and the Babson Survey Research Group, 2008. Web. 28 Apr. 2010. <http://www.sloanconsortium.org/sites/default/files/staying_the_course-2.pdf>.)) And the credit crunch and the rocky economy have led to the overall enrollments and increasing demands for online courses.

Employers Views on Online Degrees
Students realize that a degree can help them improve their skills and get a promotion. But, how do employers feel about online degrees? According to a study done by Excelsior College and Zogby International, 61 percent of CEOs and small business owners nationwide were familiar with distance learning programs and 83 percent of executives in the survey believed an online degree was just as credible and valuable as a degree from a traditional university. (( Zupek, Rachel. "Employers on Online Education." CNN. CareerBuilder, 29 Mar. 2010. Web. 28 Apr. 2010. <http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/worklife/03/29/cb.employers.online.education/index.html>.)) However, other employers disregard online education and believe students don’t receive the same quality education as other students at traditional colleges and universities. However, “Proponents of online education cite a recent Department of Education study that concluded course work is better absorbed online than material presented in live classrooms.” ((Stern, Andrew. "Online Education Expands for U.S. Need, Awaits Innovation." USA Today. Reuters, 4 Oct. 2009. Web. 28 Apr. 2010. <http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2009-10-04-online-degree_N.htm>.)) In order to learn more about online education visit ClassesandCareers.com for free and helpful information.

Types of Courses
•    A web facilitated class is where students meet face-to-face but the class uses web pages to post the syllabus, notes, assignments, and quizzes.
•    Another option available to students is the blended/hybrid which is a combination of students and teachers meeting together physically but they also spend a significant amount of time online which reduces the amount of time spent on campus and in class.
•    And then lastly there are online courses which offer all course material and lectures online and students and teachers usually never meet face-to-face.

Classes Available
As the number of students involved with distance learning increases so do the number and variety of classes being offered by schools. Public as well as private institutions are now offering a variety of different learning formats. The growth of courses offered online is seen across all disciplines. However, engineering is the only major area where online representation is significantly lower than other areas. But nevertheless, degrees and online classes are offered within many disciplines.
•    Business
•    Criminal Justice and Legal 
•    Design
•    Education
•    Health and Nursing
•    IT & Engineering
•    Liberal Arts
•    Social Sciences
•    Vocational

Average Cost for a Credit Hour
Typically, students may expect to pay an average cost of $252 per credit hour according to Bnet.com. (("A Breakdown of College Education Costs." Guide to Online Schools. Web. 28 Apr. 2010. <http://www.guidetoonlineschools.com/financial-aid/college-education-costs>.)) Whereas a campus based class is an average of $239 which isn’t much of a difference especially when students consider the flexibility and the fact that they can keep their day jobs.

Computer System Requirements
Now as for things the course may require first up is a computer. Some schools require that students have a computer and internet access within their home while others just require that students have easy and reliable access to any computer. Now as far as computer system requirements go, that really depends on the school and the type of class students are enrolled in so students should check with their school in order to learn what operating systems are required. But generally, students need a web browser, email, and word processing program.

Access Time
Most students have the freedom to choose when they log onto class. However, students need to be checking their courses between five and seven times a week so that they can stay on top of the discussion boards and their upcoming assignments. But students should realize that some schools may require students to log on at specific times for one reason or another.

Textbooks
Fortunately, most online students are not required to purchase the traditional textbooks. They may if they choose, but many have all the resources they need at their fingertips. And some schools have e-books or e-libraries where the students can read and access all the materials they need online without needing to spend any additional money. So the textbook dilemma really boils down to what way the individual school has decided students should learn and study course materials.

Online Coursework Systems
Many schools use Blackboard as their primary supplemental virtual classrooms but there are others as well. Students will most likely be required to complete their coursework through Blackboard but that may include discussion boards, posted lectures, email, testing, file sharing, and group work. (( "A Breakdown of College Education Costs." Guide to Online Schools. Web. 28 Apr. 2010. <http://www.guidetoonlineschools.com/financial-aid/college-education-costs>.))

Help Desk
If students need technical support, most schools generally have a help desk where they can receive instructions on how to fix or alter their settings  and solve technical issues with a representative 24/7. Also, many schools offer tutorials on several different types of software that may be required for specific classes. So students don’t have to waste a lot of time trying to figure out how to use the system because they can watch a short tutorial.

Student Services
Online students have access to the same services that traditional students do. Academic advisors are available and willing to help students at any time in order to help prepare them for school, and ensure they’re on the path to graduation. They can also speak with finance representatives in order to learn more about financial aid options that are available.  Plus students are able to register for classes, update their account, and check their schedule and even their grades by simply logging into their schools website.  And some schools even offer programs that check your papers for grammatical errors as well as citations. And other services may also include tutorials that help students refresh and understand subjects like math and statistics. (( "Campus and Online Learning Formats." University of Phoenix. Web. 28 Apr. 2010. <http://www.phoenix.edu/students/how-it-works/learning_formats.html>.))

Necessary Skills for Successful Online Learners
•    Self-Motivated
•    Time Management
•    Persistent
•    Excel in Reading Comprehension
•    Extremely Focused and Resist Distractions
•    Don’t Desire the Social Scene of College
•    Ability to use Internet and Software

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