Smoke and Mirrors
We are trying to do away with some of the smoke and mirrors surrounding online distance learning. For example, you should avoid schools that are not accredited by a state board. Also avoid institutions that do not offer direct communications with teachers.
Good old reading and writing
Much of the actual work involved in completion of your degree will be very much the same as in a traditional college or university. The Internet has not as of yet replaced good old reading and writing and communicating with teachers and other students. This remains the basis for a good education, and is the core of an online education.
Using the Internet
Course materials are usually delivered in an online format, but occasionally paper texts are used too. Instructors will keep virtual “office hours” through a bulletin board service or an online discussion group where other students will be participating as well. There is also around the clock access to email which will be a vital tool in communicating not only with your teachers but also with fellow students.
Occasionally lectures are conducted via video conference as well as streaming audio. An important point to remember is that no special technology is needed. All you need is an Internet ready computer and an online connection.
When deciding on which institution to choose, be sure to check the following:
- Discussion groups are often your only times to discuss your work and the class content. It is important that they be held regularly, and at times that are convenient for you.
- That instructors are willing to review your written work and provide individual feedback and personalized attention.
- Read up on the qualifications of the instructors at the different online schools.
- That evaluation is from a balanced combination of written work, discussion group participation and the quality not only the quantity of what you have to say in the discussion forums.