8 Things To Know Before Choosing Online Degrees
The purpose of online degrees may seem strictly restricted to the time and age we live in right now, as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic. However, Online Degrees have existed far before COVID-19 and will exist post-pandemic as well. They serve as a means of education globally for students and learners unable to access quality education on specific topics or entire courses in their local environments.
The fact of the matter is over 3 million students worldwide take part in courses strictly online, which is essentially a tribute to the quality, convenience, and growing popularity of online learning based on data reported in the United States by (Seaman, Elaine Allen, & Seaman, n.d).
It is crazy to think about how different education has expanded beyond physical classrooms to education fully online and entirely online tertiary degrees!
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The idea of Online Degree’s is usually split into different myth’s, lists of Pro’s and Con’s, The Experience, and various other factors in the following Categories:
- Myth’s based around Online Degree’s
- Pros and Cons.
- The legitimacy of Online Degree’s
- The Rise of Online Education and Online Degrees during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
- Are Online Degrees better than In-Person Degrees?
- The Future of Online Degrees & Universities Globally.
- My personal experience with Online Studies if not, degrees is – Bear with me!
- Conclusion base
#1 Myths Based Around Online Degrees
The Quality of Education is lower
Contrary to popular belief, taking online degree courses is not settling for lesser quality education. In the 21st century, many students globally are rather required to enrol in Online Degrees from High School to University Online Degrees because of socio-economic struggles or because of geographic difficulties by living in rural areas resulting in difficulties in accessing traditional campus grounds. Regardless, the growing consensus is that online learning can rival, or in some cases surpass, the levels of quality and student satisfaction found on traditional campuses. The content of the online curriculum is similar to that found in face-to-face classrooms in terms of assignments and course content covered; however, the online platform facilitates a broader array of delivery styles and a greater level of online interaction among students.
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Mental Health Concern’s
Furthermore, many students initially feel a bit apprehensive as they enter their first term of online classes, experiencing some combination of fear and excitement. Those who are returning after an extended period away from formal education or those who plan to juggle their schooling with other responsibilities may be particularly nervous.
They may be sceptical about navigating the online classroom, staying up to date with the workload, or dedicating time to their coursework. What is encouraging is that this initial apprehension is completely normal. It is not unusual to feel uncertainty when adjusting to something new, just as with starting a new job, moving to a new town, or any other new venture.
“You need to be an expert with technology, to manage online degrees”.
Students who are new to computers may feel nervous while venturing into online education. Becoming a successful online learner involves not only an adjustment to the nature of college Learning but also catching up with the online degree itself.
Tip: As you acclimate to online learning, take things one at a time, and do not be afraid to use the resources available to you. Explore the course work; navigate the necessary technology, as well as the classroom Web site. Basic skills, such as the ability to create, format, and save new documents conduct searches on the Internet and perform basic computer maintenance, will be necessary to stay involved in online degree courses.
#2 Pros & Cons
a) Since online degree programs don’t require you to be physically present in a classroom or follow a predefined timetable, you are free to set your schedule. The online degree provides you with the flexibility to complete your coursework from anywhere, at any time and your own pace. If you have an important task to complete or run to attend to an important chore, you can always log in to complete your schoolwork later that afternoon or night.
Below is a list of the top 10 universities with flexible online degrees in India:
- Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU)
- Symbiosis Centre for Distance Learning
- Sikkim Manipal University
- IMT Distance and Open Learning Institute
- Madhya Pradesh Bhoj (Open) University
- Dr BR Ambedkar Open University (BRAOU)
- Netaji Subhas Open University
- Maharishi Dayanand University (MDU)
- Karnataka State Open University
- Acharya Nagarjuna University (CDE)
b) Many students who take online classes are full-time professionals looking to get ahead in their careers. Even if you are not currently working full-time, online degree courses, offer you a flexible schedule that allows you to learn and work at the same time and pay your way through college.
c) Since you can complete an online degree course from anywhere, you are free to choose any school that offers the program you need regardless of your current geographic location within a country or even internationally. Moreover, if you ever relocate, you do not have to worry about transferring to another school.
d) The temptation to procrastinate can be immense when it comes to online degrees, as you are on a self-imposed schedule. Therefore, you need to stay focused, disciplined, and motivated to complete an online degree program.
e) By taking classes online and engaging in Online Degrees, you might feel you miss the activities associated with campus life. From cultural events to inter-college sports, from prom nights to graduation. However, you can look at it as a small price to pay for getting the quality education that may have otherwise been beyond your reach.
f) Online degree courses are self-directed. This may not work very well for you if you need more attention and interaction from your professors, particularly for the parts of the course, which are difficult to comprehend. The trade-off is that online degrees deliver the knowledge and tools required to form a specific skill set targeted towards career development.
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#3 Legitimacy of Online Degrees
Lately, fully online degrees and certificates have become increasingly popular. However, it seems like, they have often suffered from an image problem that they are not quite as ‘legitimate’ as in-person degrees. Therefore, looking back students and individuals wishing to undertake Online Degree need to remember while choosing Online Degrees they must take accredited universities or colleges for not only a good education but also a good legitimate.
#4 The Rise of Online Education and Online Degrees during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Education during the COVID-19 pandemic has not only proved to be one of the toughest challenges for individuals and students but also for universities globally as they had to shift to online methods of education to prevent further increases of cases globally using this already existing system of online courses many universities have taken the measures to incorporate it into their long-term study plans, therefore, allowing students to have flexibility over choosing multiple in person or multiple online off-campus classes as a result universities in the 21st century moving forward from the cover 19 pandemic are going to be much more diverse and much more flexible in their study plans and their courses.
#5 Is Online better than In Person?
Online learning can be equally good or even better than traditional classroom learning. Studies indicate that students in online learning performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction, but it has to be done right.
Students and working professionals can get the high-quality education needed for career advancement despite geographic and other constraints. Offering degree programs in dual modes means that online students can learn alongside on-campus students, bringing a diversity of experiences. The future of university education is giving students choices, which today’s technologies facilitate.
#6 The Future of Online Degrees & Universities Globally.
The future of universities globally really depends on the way universities move ahead of plan the way they’re going to incorporate online degrees into their existing study structures as students deserve that flexibility and they deserve to be able to have degree programs in two different modes in which students can learn alongside on-campus students if they wish too Furthermore the usage of technology to deliver online degrees too rural areas allows for a greater social benefit for the next generation and greater access for education globally as well with HarvardX and MIT providing free online degrees enabling individuals to learn and develop their skills further.
#7 My Personal Experience :
After having recently moved to Australia from Dubai, I and my Husband have been into upskilling through online degrees for different reasons such as additional skills to find employment in Australia and to start as a freelancer on my own.
My Husband (aged – early ’40s) took up an online degree in Cybersecurity in India, with a reputed university. The degree has been recently introduced targeting mid-career professionals. The curriculum is great, and online degree finishes in a year, exams can be given remotely. All classes would be live, online with access to the class recordings for at least a year after completing the online degree. Hence, the online degree package fits in very well with the requirements of working professionals.
The degree being a fully accredited one with a vast curriculum fully covering all aspects of cybersecurity along with practical applications, fixed time slots, live online classes with interactive sessions were for 3 to 4 hours, and time slots for practical practice scheduled separately, it complied with all the requirements that would suit working professionals.
There is a substantial commitment required to attend all the online classes and an enormous amount of self-motivation and commitment is required to first, attend all the classes along with your full-time work, and to study, submit assignments on time (as you cannot move on to next module without submitting the first one) and then to do all the practice sessions.
In all this, one big advantage is, should you be committed and are successful in doing this, you will be getting a fully accredited online degree while you were continuing to earn. The additional qualification you earned while working full-time, can put you in a very strong position within the industry.
Is it worth it, I would say ‘YES’? Totally, worth it, especially for professionals who are already into jobs or, for anyone, with commitments, which do not allow them to do a full-time, traditional degree that requires one to attend classes physically.
My (aged-early 40’s) own experience with Online classes:
I signed up for two certification courses. I am working Full-time.
Scenario 1: Online degree certificate for Thermal assessment for residential buildings:
The online degree curriculum is great. It is a self-paced online degree with a deadline to complete within a year from the date you have accessed the online degree. Some modules had a sequence, and some could be completed independently. All sessions were recordings with online access and reading materials and assignments need to be submitted to demonstrate our knowledge. Certificates will be provided based on the assessment of our submissions for all modules. The assessor and the Course tutor are very prompt in responding to our online queries if any.
This DID NOT WORK for me. I only completed only one module until now. Since I did not have to attend an online session at any fixed time, my other commitments took the front seat and though I motivated myself with a schedule and plan, I could not study and submit the assignments on time, and I have just made another plan to just finish with this because I have paid for the online degree. All the motivation I had when I signed up for the online degree is gone, to be honest.
This kind of online degree course will probably work for people who are working from home or are not working full-time.
Scenario 2: The second online degree I had signed up for is ‘Content Writing’ with IIM SKILLS, India.
The online degree curriculum is very good. It is a structured online degree with assignments and submission deadlines. The classes are live, online, and interactive. All online sessions are recorded with lifetime access to all recordings. The tutor was always quick to clarify any questions or doubts one may have after the session or while doing the assignments etc.
Above everything, the instructor delivering the online classes is excellent at what he is teaching and in addition to the online degree content being taught, the classes are full of practical tips. This felt like I was in a real class and it motivated me to get more involved and work on all the assignments. Since the online classes are scheduled at a specific time, I had to force myself to set out a time to attend the classes.
This WORKED for me.
If you are curious as to what I am trying to do with two completely different online courses, well the common element is, both can help me do remote work, freelance, or set up a business on my own?.
My son, who is a 17-year-old, was doing his pre-university studies, had been performing excellently when he was having in-person classes at the university. Then COVID-19 occurred and all the classes went into online mode. He went through similar scenarios as I explained above for different subjects. He had the same outcome.
Classes that were live, online, and interactive worked for him, and classes that had online-recorded sessions did not work and since it was online, more students (in hundreds) were logged in at the same time so, the interaction was quite limited.
For the first time, my son scored average in Mathematics and Economics. Said, he needed interaction to clarify his doubts and as pursuing the lecturers and waiting for their response, etc. to all the time, he had to resort to YouTube for answers. It all showed in his results.
For teenagers, especially for my son who is an extrovert and was heavily involved in the social activities in the University, the fact that there is no physical interaction and no socializing with classmates between the sessions and staying in a room attending classes online did not help both in his studies and mentally. His answer would be a ‘NO’ to online degrees.
Since this article is about ‘Online degrees’ I resisted talking about my daughter’s online classes (she is in middle school). All she did was log in for attendance and go back to sleep and the little study she did later was on my persistence after catching up with the online chat and notes left online for records by the teachers.
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My take on what works for online degrees and what does not work for everybody.
What works for most:
- Accredited online Degrees with the same value as the Traditional degrees
- Good course content and curriculum.
- Knowledgeable instructors/tutors.
- Live online sessions with a limited no of students. If the students are in hundreds, the interaction is limited.
- To keep the students interested, communication between the online classes through online chats is necessary. This will work if the no of students for each online session is limited.
- Class tutors who are excellent in communication. Monotonous online classes will make students lose interest.
- Good tutors who are open to engaging and clarifying any doubts or online queries promptly.
- An added incentive would be follow-up Emails or messages about the classes or assignments. This promotes engagement and adds a human element to the online degree.
- Scheduled online class timings to promote discipline.
- Scheduled assignments to motivate the student to study and submit assignments.
- Practical practice sessions with real-life scenarios will give confidence that the knowledge acquired can be applied directly at the workplace.
- Support for Internships at workplaces after the completion of online degrees.
- Work Placement support or guidance will motivate the students to complete the online degrees on time.
What does not work for everyone:
- Recorded online degree course sessions with no interaction with the course tutor.
- Self-paced courses with no intermediate deadlines to complete the assignments and courses. This does not motivate students to complete the online degree/course.
- Course material, which directs you to purchase additional course material for more information.
- Working professionals with busy schedules will need tremendous self-discipline and motivation to complete this kind of online degree course.
- This kind, of course, can work for people who are not working and are looking to find work based on the course certificate. Therefore, the fact that completing the online degree course will help them find employment will be the motivation.
- Online degree Courses with just recorded sessions have no human element to them.
- Usually, these online courses do not offer any internships or guidance with finding employment.
- Usually, courses with recorded sessions are cheaper and will be an excellent option for self-motivated persons looking to learn and have a quick online degree qualification.
- Online degrees can be successful if it has excellent content with an emphasis on real-time examples and practice, if degrees are accredited, and if Classes are live and human.
- Tutors need to be good at both teaching and communicating. If the online degree course tutors are ready to walk the extra mile to ensure students are understanding and are involved, it’s a bonus.
- Online degree courses and course structure must be designed to motivate students and promote adherence to scheduled classes. Assignments must be scheduled on specific dates at intervals with an end date for submission so that students have the option to suit their schedule as flexibility is one of the main factors for choosing online degrees.
- Feedback on assignments and not just a result stating a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’.
- Availability of recordings online for viewing and revisions. Organizing Classroom groups online chats will also help as it promotes interaction and may save the instructors from answering questions that are repeated.
- Added incentives such as free E-books, guidance for internships, real-time project examples and assignments, and work placements will attract and motivate students to stay grounded and complete the online degree.
Happy Students make successful online degrees!
After all, an online course or a degree be it an online degree or a traditional degree, is successful if it contributes to the success of its students from a distance online or in-person education.