Friday, March 10, 2006

CNN/Money: Earning a degree online just got easier

From CNN/Money: Earning a degree online just got easier

I've got mixed opinions on this one. The short of it is:
Slipped into a $39.5 billion budget package that passed both houses last Tuesday was a provision that repealed what used to be known as "the 50-50 rule," which required colleges and vocational schools to offer at least 50% of their courses in traditional bricks-and-mortar classrooms before their students could qualify for federal loan programs. Now that the 50-50 rule is history, long-distance learning is accessible to many more students.
The particularly good part of it is, the funds will only be available to accredited colleges. Now, it doesn't make mention of who does the accrediting - a question you should always ask - but my assumption is that it's one of the "Big Six" regional accrediting bodies.

Personally and speaking for myself - I wouldn't yet want to attend any online school without a "brick-and-mortar" existence. A large part of this is due to my educational goals - I want to be taught by faculty that do research and other academic field work. My inclination is that, at this juncture, a purely online institution generally won't have much of that to offer. This doesn't take away from the quality of the education provided, but it does somewhat limit the type or nature of education that can be provided.

Then there's still the issue of general acceptance. Though I still believe online education is becoming more and more accepted, I still don't think many people are quite ready to accept a purely online institution. With a "brick-and-mortar" institution, they might know the name, the sports team, their buddy that went there, that they've been around for 100 years - all these things add legitimacy. That's unavailable with a purely online institution.

Note that the above, to me, does not detract from the quality education that can or will probably be able to be obtained there - just don't expect a purely online school to carry the same name-value of a "brick-and-mortar" institution anytime soon.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

BW: Online Education Never Felt So Real

An interesting read (chat transcript, really) with some students in the online program at Instituto de Empresa in Madrid, Spain

BusinessWeek: Online Education Never Felt So Real

One well-to-note point about their program is that at least part of it is synchronous (as opposed to asynchronous) - so you do have to be logged in at a specific time.

There were two particularly good quotes/insights that apply to online education in general that caught my eye, both by David Standen:
The truth is, businesses have been demanding more of this kind of program for a long time. They run their entire operations in a blended format -- presentational and online -- and are used to maintaining relationships using online media. They have no problem accepting this like any other MBA program.
From my side, one of the places we've seen a big difference is in the level of networking after graduation. In a traditional program, students are used to seeing each other every morning, so when they disperse around the world, they don't maintain close contact because they're not used to the daily Internet communication.
Anyhow - give it a read!