The Case for Online Colleges

19th Sep 2010Various, , , , , , , , ,

I think we all know how people feel about online colleges, especially in the geek world, but here’s a few things I’ve thought about.

When learning in IT, how is self-guided education much different than listening to lectures and so-forth? I understand that traditional school will have labs and all that jazz, but if you’re serious about your degree won’t you be doing these things on your own as well? I’m sure not everyone does, but it seems logical.

And those lectures…what purpose do they serve? Wouldn’t it be easier to have all of that information already written down, and have the instructor simply guide you through the material over the course of the class? The interaction comes in the form of weekly discussions among the entire class, so social skills are developed, even if the students are not physically around those with whom they are interacting.

That piece of paper and the interview. What about the degree? It says you know something, but I’m sure we’ve all seen a college grad from a traditional institution who didn’t have the first clue about where to start. So, what should that degree do for a potential job applicant? Get them past the HR department, of course. When their potential manager interviews them, they should be able to prove or disprove the value of their degree quite easily. A few simple tests can mean all the difference when filling a position.

Is it really that easy? Not extremely. The instructors are much less lenient and forgiving when they are dealing with just another screen name. In traditional colleges students can get away with all sorts of trickery, postponing tests, etc. In online courses, when something is due, you’d better get it in or you’re losing a lot of points. This teaches responsibility to the student. It is up to them to learn the material, do the work, and prove what they have learned.

I’m not advocating online post-secondary education for everyone, don’t get me wrong, but if you work a full-time job, plus maybe a part-time job, or have kids, online school can be perfect. All that’s needed is for these for-profit online schools such as Axia to work hard to change their image. Partner with large companies to put students in respectable positions, and leverage that.

It’s possible that I have no clue what I’m talking about, but it’s also possible that I might be right, isn’t it?

1 Comment Comments Feed

  1. Will B (September 9, 2010, 12:04 pm). Reply

    What about the degree? It says you know something, but I’m sure we’ve all seen a college grad from a traditional institution who didn’t have the first clue about where to start.

    Man, you hit that RIGHT on the money. I remember this guy who got hired at our company to be the grand d-lux IT master pumba, complete with degree and the MCSE, yet his non-degree’d underling and I both had vastly more knowledge about IT stuff than he did. He lasted about one or two months, then he was gone…and we did fine without him.

    But more on-topic, I agree with all of your points about online college. 🙂

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