Aside from the billion-dollar online commerce, communications, news, entertainment and others, online education is one of today’s growing industries in the Internet.
For people with intentions of enrolling in one of these online learning institutions, it is best to check out upfront some important things. After all, education is one significant undertaking that should not be taken lightly.
The very first consideration about a school is its status. Is your prospective school accredited by reputable organizations or by the industry at large? Your prospective employment will depend on your school’s standing and reputation.
How long has the school been in existence? It may not follow that the school’s age is a barometer for excellence but experience is always a plus factor.
How many students are enrolled? How many have graduated? If the school has few students, it might not reflect much on its credibility. The same is true with low graduation rate.
The cost of educating yourself with either online or a traditional school is always an important factor. Your tuition should be slightly less than that of a regular university. Look out for overcharged mandatory fees, hidden costs and other extraneous fees.
Determine the curriculum to be used. If there is a requirement for books, check out the costs first. Some institutions dole out their own lesson modules. These come out in other forms of media (downloads in audio, video, PowerPoint, etc.) Check out the fees, if any.
Do your research on the school’s teaching staff as well. It is important that they are of the same level or have comparable experience and competence as those of traditional university professors.
Junior college teachers usually have an M.A. degree on the subject they handle. Professors usually have Ph.D. degrees. Online education teachers should be comparably competent.
One other thing is the number of students per teacher. Teachers with many students have less time assisting each one. In essence, online education sometimes is a one-on-one learning process.
From your end, what computer hardware and software are to be used in the lessons? Online education requires that students must be well-versed in current multimedia and other programs.
Will the students purchase additional software for dedicated education programs? Lastly, if your computer is old, it may not work well, or not work at all.
Needless to say, the first thing you check out in your prospective online school is the list of degrees offered, and if your degree of choice is offered at all. Some programs may not offer the degree you want.
The next question would be how long will it take to complete the program needed for your degree. Some schools offer the chance of completing some degrees in less time. (Sometimes, they can save an entire year of work.)
Different schools offer different methods of student work: the chance to speed up or to work at one’s individual pace. Some schools require their students to participate in virtual classes and specific deadlines for assignments.
Some schools allow students to communicate with their instructors on all things about their lessons. Others do not offer such kind of assistance and students have to work out things on their own.
This early, it is good to remember that in online education, the student most often takes the initiative.