Sep 30th, 2007
Since virtual schools were given access to federal aid several years ago, many online students have relied on student loans and grants to fund their education.
The new student loan bill may change the way these students pay tuition bills. The bill allots $20 billion for federal student aid. It increases the amount set aside for grants, while decreasing the amount set aside for loans.
Letting students graduate without the burden of loans sounds like a great idea, but some critics are concerned that less loan money could prove problematic for students who don't qualify for government grants. Check out the Universities-Weblog for more info on the new student loan bill.
Sep 30th, 2007
According to Southwest Nebraska News, Mid-Plains Community College will begin offering a business associates degree program 100% online:
"Mid-Plains Community College students are now able to earn an Associate of applied science Degree in Business completely online, thanks to recent approval by the Higher Learning Commission…
"MPCC is very excited that it is now able to offer an online AAS in Business degree," said Patricia Allison, MPCC Area Vice President for Educational Services and Student Development. "We have also been working to develop online curriculum for an Associate of Arts Degree as well as an Associate of Science Degree, and are anticipating those degrees will be able to be completed entirely online in the near future."
A growing number of community colleges are entering the distance learning field – offering a reduced-cost alternative to some of the more pricey programs. Not only do these online programs offer a chance for more students to study virtually, their competitive tuition prices may end up lowering the cost of online learning for everyone.
Sep 30th, 2007
A few months ago I posted about earning an online certificate from Harvard's extension program. A lot of potential students are interested, but hesitant to put down the money.
If you've been considering taking online classes from this prestigious school, take a look at the reviews from forum readers on DegreeInfo.com. Here's what one of them has to say:
"I took CSC 256 (Oracle Admin) and found it to be the following:
1. Hard, Challenging and time-consuming (time-sucking-abyss-like at times)
2. Very, Very flexible (online lectures that you can view at your leisure) with the exception of assignments (4) and midterms/finals (open-book but timed at 24 hours).
3. Cramming=Hosed. If you waited until the last few days to do an assignment – you were usually totally hosed (the TA's are great btw – but more responsive early in the assignments'…as it should be)
4. Reasonably priced ($500/credit hour)
5. 15-20 hours a week.
I came into the class thinking I knew a thing or two about Oracle (reminder to self; you are dumb) and was blown away by the teaching.
Great guys, great service. Hard – but fair (e.g. do your homework beforehand)."
Forums can be a great way to connect with other online learners and learn from their experiences. Read the whole thread to find out more about student experiences with Harvard extension.
Sep 30th, 2007
By using transfer credits to my advantage and being smart with course schedules, I earned my bachelor's degree in less than four years. Sometimes it's helpful to take time in college to explore interests and develop talents. But, some distance learners just want to finish that degree…as soon as possible.
My About.com article addresses the question: How can I earn an online degree in less time? Here's one of the suggestions:
"Insist on transfer equivalencies. Don't let work you've done at other colleges go to waste; ask your current college to give you transfer equivalencies. Even after your college has decided what classes to give you credit for, check to see if any of the classes you have already completed could be counted to fill another graduation requirement. Your school will probably have an office that reviews transfer credit petitions on a weekly basis. Ask for that department's policies on transfer credits and put together a petition. Include a thorough explanation of the class you have completed and why it should be counted as an equivalency. If you include course descriptions from your previous and current schools' course handbooks as evidence, chances are you'll get the credits."
If you're looking to speed up your studies, check out the article for more ideas.
Sep 30th, 2007
If you're in the military, you may qualify for tuition assistance from the government. An eLearner's article explains:
"Each service branch – Army, Navy, marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard – offers a Tuition Assistance (TA) Program that helps defray the cost of education for Active Duty or Reserve personnel. TA Programs are not the GI Bill and there is a distinction. For some ranks, MOS and pay grades, an additional service commitment is required."
Check out the article for information about grants, scholarships, and other assistance. Even if you're no longer on active duty, you may still qualify for some benefits. Take advantage – you deserve it!
Sep 29th, 2007
Kenneth Hartman from Drexel University has been chosen to be the chairman of the Distance Learning Week committee. Here's a blurb from the Distance Learning Week press release:
Currently the academic director at Drexel University Online, Hartman has served more than 26-years in higher education as a university professor, administrator, and consultant. He is the author of numerous publications related to Educational technology (books, articles, CD-ROMs), and was formerly a syndicated newspaper columnist, television talk show host, and commissioned military officer. He can also be seen regularly on NBC10 (Philadelphia) as the station's on-air technology contributor.
"USDLA could not have found a better person to lead this initiative. Dr. Hartman's experience in education and the media will ultimately result in a very successful campaign," says Dr. John G. Flores, Chief Executive Officer the USDLA."
If you haven't yet, be sure to check out the Distance Learning Week website to find articles, webinars, and links for online students.
Sep 29th, 2007
Yes, there are online courses for just about anything a person would want to study.
That includes Perdue University's upcoming courses about grain. Teaming up with the Grain Elevator and Processing Society, Perdue will offer "Fuel Ethanol Production: Fundamentals, Operations, and Management" and "Safety Management of Grain and Processing Facilities" in 2008.
Grainnet shares a little about the virtual grain production courses:
"The two new courses, along with three previously held classes, each consist of approximately 10 lectures and typically last five weeks.
Lecture material is mailed to students on CDs, and the course syllabi, quizzes and related material are provided on a dedicated Purdue University website."
I think this just about proves it: whether you want to be an accountant in the big city or oversee grain processing in a small town factory, distance learning has you covered.
Sep 29th, 2007
A recent report by Primary Research Group shows that traditional colleges are making a substantial amount of money by offering online courses – and that many colleges view online programs as a way to generate extra income.
That's good news because it means more quality traditional schools will be entering the online learning market. It's bad news because it may indicate colleges are putting less money into their online courses (by spending less, they'll generate more). It's important that colleges give online offerings the same importance as traditional courses.
Here are a few of the distance learning report's more interesting findings:
* Most colleges in the sample-more than two-thirds-view their distance learning program as a financial resource that is expected to produce a surplus for the college, while for 28.57% of the colleges in the sample it was merely expected to pay for itself, and one college viewed it as an educational luxury, subsidized by the college.
* More than 57% of the students in the sample live within 75 miles of the college that offers them the distance learning courses.
* Less than 10% of the programs in the sample require all students to pay full "sticker price" tuition without tuition reductions, rebates or grants.
* Nearly 23% of the programs in the sample provide tailor-made distance leaning courses to some arm of the U.S. armed forces.
* Only 6.9% of the programs in the sample plan to change their course management/authoring/maintenance program within the next two years.
* Private colleges use adjunct faculty for 64.5% of the courses that they offer, with a low of 20% to a high of 100%.
* Nearly 70% of the colleges in the sample offer payments routinely to instructors who develop distance leaning courses, and more than 17% occasionally offer such payments.
Sep 29th, 2007
Mark your calendars…the United States Distance Learning Association is proclaiming November 12-16th "Distance Learning Week." They'll use the occasion to spread the word about online learning and its potential.
Here's a blurb from the USDLA's Distance Learning Week press release:
"The United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) will hold the 2007 National Distance Learning Week (NDLW), November 12 -16, 2007. NDLW is an initiative that will generate broader awareness and appreciation for distance learning within the areas of pre-k-12 education, higher and continuing education, home schooling, as well as business, corporate, military, government, and telehealth markets. Since 1987, USDLA has been the world's premier distance learning association…
USDLA defines distance learning as the acquisition of knowledge and skills through mediated information and instruction, encompassing all technologies and other forms of learning at a distance. This week-long event will also be publicized in "Distance Learning Today," a USDLA sponsored quarterly supplement in USA TODAY. Distance Learning Today (DLT) appears in USA TODAY's top-tier markets for distance learning – major commuter hubs, convention centers and hotels. Timed to hit the newsstands Friday, November 9, before National Distance Learning Week, DLT will be read by 2 million people. In addition, the section will be featured on the USDLA website (www.usdla.org), which averages 2.6 million hits per month."
Check out their website to see information about Distance Learning Week, promotional material, and available webinars.
Sep 28th, 2007
I have a friend who graduated with over 100k in Student loan debt – and a teaching degree. Unfortunately, it's going to take her a very long time to pay off the debt with a teacher's salary.
If you're considering earning an online degree, take the time to weigh the costs and benefits in your mind. For some people, earning a degree can result in a huge jump in income as well as a promotion. For others, the benefit is only a sense of accomplishment (which might be worth it, if that's all you're expecting…)
eLearners has a useful Salary Guide that can help potential e-students figure out how much they can expect to make in their chosen occupations. Since salaries vary in different areas, take the time to talk to professionals in your own city. Spending the time to set reasonable expectations now can save you a lot of heartbreak (and cash) in the future.