When people ask me questions about online schools the most common questions revolve around how easy or difficult the online programs are and whether online degrees are worthless. Too often people assume, incorrectly, that online schools are in some ways inferior to traditional land-based schools and that their virtual education will not be as effective as a "traditional" education. Nothing could be further from the truth; in fact, online programs can sometimes be better than traditional schools, at least in some avenues of learning.
Obviously, every school is different and there are exceptions to every rule. But, on average, most accredited online schools provide an education that is just as good as traditional schools. In some ways, online schools are better because of how they are different. Four areas that online school's can actually excel over brick-and-mortar schools are in instructor and peer interaction, the fact that they are always available, and that they provide time to reflect.
Many people assume that in online school you do not get to interact with your instructor much; they fear they will miss the "human touch" in their courses. Of course it is true that you do not usually meet your instructor face to face at online schools. However, you do get to interact with them in a chat room; often, you actually get more one-on-one time with your instructor in these chat rooms and course mail than you normally would in an online course.
Similar to instructor interaction, you get to frequently interact with your peers in online courses as well. In most online degree schools reading the work of others and replying to their postings in a chat room is a major part of your course requirements and learning. This is especially true in graduate level classes, when your classmates are likely experienced professionals who have a lot of interesting information about your field that you can learn from.
Time to Reflect
Because online school programs are usually asynchronous, meaning that everyone can be online at a different time, you have time to reflect on information that you read and that others post before you reply. Think about it - in a traditional course if a teacher "calls on you" to answer a question you have to think of a reply right there. In an online course you have time to truly think about the question and formulate a good reply before you post.
Online schools are always available. You can log in and do your homework 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all semester long. If you are a super early bird, an insomniac or you work strange hours, this can be awesome, allowing you to get your online course work done whenever is most convenient for you!
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