Nov 30th, 2007
Drexel University recently announced the launch of an unusual online degree: the Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies. The new degree teaches students the skills they need to be a "professional" in a number of fields. Here's how their latest press release explains it:
"The B.S. in Professional Studies online program will enable students to acquire expertise in significant areas of contemporary professional life, and is equally relevant in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Coursework for the major is constructed around five areas of study – social science (understanding people in a diverse world), critical thinking, creativity, communication, and business. The curriculum is designed to enable students to become professionals in their field of choice, building on their prior education and experience.
The goal of the B.S. in Professional Studies is to expose students to varying aspects of professional life. There is also an emphasis on creativity not often found in other degrees. Students will become acquainted with creativity, theory and practice, learning to apply creative principles to enhance themselves individually, and as an organization."
This is certainly an interesting endeavor. However, I tend to believe that graduates are best suited by holding more specific degrees. When it comes to thriving in a competitive work field, employers want to know their new hires bring specific skills to the table. We'll see how these professional studies grads do outside of the classroom.
Nov 30th, 2007
Massachusetts Sergeant Brice Leslie is facing criticism for using a suspicious masters degree. The Worcester Telegram reports:
"I had master's credits from military courses," he said yesterday, "and I also took courses from the University of Maryland while overseas, and various other courses."
"What they do then (at Shelburne University) is they take what you have for credit along with life experiences and everything else and make a determination. They send you tests … and if you pass their requirements they will issue you a master's degree."
"It was cheap," Sgt. Leslie said. "They accepted all my credits and it worked for me, so that's what I did. They assured me the university was accredited and the degree was accepted by police departments all over the world."
However this matter is resolved, it is yet another reminder of the value in choosing a reputable school. It may be cheaper and easier to choose a non-accredited college, but the potential damage to your professional reputation is rarely worth it.
Nov 30th, 2007
Recent research from the Sloan Consortium shows that some traditional professors are still skeptical of online learning. USA Today reports:
"Just as professors have long questioned whether students learn as well via mail-order coursework as they do in a classroom, today's educators often doubt the merits of a system that renders their physical presence unnecessary. Just 33% of respondents to the Sloan survey said faculty at their institutions support the value and legitimacy of online learning; that's up from 28% in 2002.
"I'm not convinced by those who claim that it provides the same level of value-added knowledge that a traditional classroom does," says Philip Altbach, director of The Boston College Center for International Higher Education.
"I don't think the data is all that good yet, and as a traditionalist, I just wonder. I'm not saying it's hooey or a problem, but the jury is still a little bit out."
People are always hesitant to embrace new ways of doing things. However, teachers are slowly beginning to show their support. Hopefully two things will happen: the quality of online classes will improve and professors will become more willing to depart from tradition.
Nov 30th, 2007
A growing number of traditional colleges now offer online classes. But, unfortunately, many are also charging virtual learners a "distance learning fee" in addition to their regular tuition. An article from the Independent Florida Alligator shows that officials from the university of florida recently discussed this option:
"The Educational Policy and Strategy Committee will discuss a potential $2-per-credit-hour fee that UF will charge in spring for online classes.
The fee would cover the cost of using the e-Learning system and would not be included in tuition or covered by Bright Futures.
Colleges and departments will also be allowed to charge a Distance Learning fee to cover costs of providing courses away from UF's campus."
The fee may be low in this case. However, I still think that the charging of additional fees is a dangerous path. Online students should not pay a premium for learning virtually. In many cases they are actually saving schools money (on space, utilities, etc).
Nov 30th, 2007
Many companies offer employees some form of tuition reimbursement for attending an accredited college. But, a few companies are taking employee learning a step further, with no-cost company-created learning programs. A recent post from eLearners.com explains:
"This trend sees individual companies are creating their own internal "degree programs" that emulate traditional Online Degree Programs. In these cases, the organizations are putting together a "degree" plan (or a number of differing degree plans) that allow employees to earn a certificate that is referred to as a "degree". The degree programs can be made up exclusively of in-house training opportunities, or they can be a mix of internal and external training classes."
The good news: employees are given an easy way to advance without having to pay tuition or deal with complicated tuition reimbursement arrangements. The bad news: most of these in-house "degrees" are not properly accredited. A degree that earns you advancement in one company isn't likely to be recognized outside of the office.
Nov 29th, 2007
I've written before about the potential of cell phone courses (and my disdain for the idea). Now, it seems that one Japanese college has actually gone through with it. This week Cyber University began offering a cell phone course about the mysteries of the pyramids. The Associated Press reports:
"Sakuji Yoshimura, who heads Cyber University and gives the pyramids course, said the university provides educational opportunities for people who find it hard to attend real-life universities, including those with jobs and those who are sick or have disabilities…
He scoffed at those who question the value of Internet and cell-phone classes, noting attendance is relatively high at 86 percent. Whether students play the lecture downloads to the end can be monitored by the university digitally, officials said."
The cell phone course is free to the members of the public who receive cell phone service from the college's chosen network. What do you think? Will the cell phone course be a convenient way to learn or a distraction?
Nov 29th, 2007
Students in Baltimore will soon be able to enroll in blended learning programs for health care subjects. Campus Technology reports:
"The Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) is expanding its e-learning activities by developing online and hybrid programs in health care. The move will help alleviate what the college described as a "backlog of potential students who previously were prevented from enrolling due to limited classroom space." The initiative includes new online nursing, Paramedic, and medical lab technician programs."
The first blended program will focus on nursing. Hands-on skills practice will be done on-site while academic work will be conducted via the internet.
Nov 29th, 2007
Whether or not your online college offers a digital library, you'll probably want to check out the massive collection of books now offered from the Universal Digital Library.
A recent article from Physorg.com examines the differences between the Universital Digital Library and other book scanning projects:
"The Million Book Project, an international venture led by Carnegie Mellon University in the United States, Zhejiang University in China, the Indian Institute of Science in India and the Library at Alexandria in Egypt, has completed the digitization of more than 1.5 million books, which are now available online…
Though Google, Microsoft and the Internet Archive all have launched major book digitization projects, the Million Book Project represents the world's largest, university-based digital library of freely accessible books. At least half of its books are out of copyright, or were digitized with the permission of the copyright holders, so the complete texts are or eventually will be available free."
The organization's website allows browsers to search for books by keyword or browse through their collections.
Nov 28th, 2007
Wikis can be an incredible supplement to an online class. They can be used to organize class material, collect student assignments, or act as a collective consciousness. Wikis in Education from Wetpaint is now offering add-free wikis for classrooms. Here's how they describe what their wikis can do:
"With the current generation of students being more technologically savvy than ever before, digital space has become a viable and important tool for educators. Wikis supply digital publication without needing to have knowledge of coding or private server space. In other words, incredibly easily published web space."
Check it out to make your own or see examples of educational wikis in action.
Nov 28th, 2007
You can learn a lot about an online college by visiting its website and talking to its admissions counselors. But, I've always believed that the best way to learn about the college's student experience is to talk to the students who have studied there.
Terry recently gave a very thorough description of the online exams given at Penn Foster College. Here's a blurb:
I have just returned home from taking my Semester One final exams for the Associate in Business-Marketing program from Penn Foster College. All I can say is this: thank God it was on open-book exam. It doesn't help, of course, that I have not worked on a lot of this material in almost two years, but I'm not using that as an excuse. Overall, I think I passed most of the exams. The fact that Penn Foster is a nationally-Accredited Distance Learning school should not lead anyone to believe that translates to "easy".
Check out the post for the details.