Monday, June 15, 2009

Online Learning: Benefits and Consequences

Hi. This is the first installment of articles discussing the good and bad aspects of learning online. I will talk about my experiences with online learning and also relay details of others bad and good experiences with learning on the web.

Background Information:
During my first year as an educator, I realized that in order for me to solidify my position as an educator, I would have to take courses to further my education. The closer college to my home was The University of Mississippi which was about an hour and a half away. Commuting was out of the question. Night classes or weekend classes were unmanageable because of the commute and my hectic schedules as a teacher. I decided to look online. I searched the web for colleges that would offer degree programs online with little to no commuting requirements and that would be accredited by my state department of education. I found the University of Phoenix. It offered most of its degree programs online and on campus. I called and spoke to an enrollment counselor and an hour later I was enrolled. I decided to get an advanced degree in the area in which I am currently teaching: Mathematics Education. The program was simple to follow and very flexible but it was not easy by a long shot. The courses I took required me to use APA style to construct my papers and many of my professors made us follow the manual to a tee. I worked hard and I gave it my all. Nothing came easy and I was glad for it at the end. In March of this year, I completed the masters program and received my degree. I was able to get the certification I needed in order to keep my job as a elementary math teacher.

Viewpoints about Online Learning
I was very excited to be graduating and getting certification as a math teacher but what I wasn't glad about was how people viewed my hard earned degree. I started reading articles regarding prejudice against earning a degree online. These articles implied that administrators in HR offices would not view a degree earn online as being equal to one earned at a traditional college. I have earned two degrees through the traditional level and have to say that they were easier to get than the one I earned from UPX. As I continued to read, many of these articles had a negative view about University of Phoenix. I was heartbroken. I had learned quite a bit from UPX and now people are telling me that my degree means nothing because it was from UPX. I was angry and I had to find out if the department of education would accept my degree. Since I had earned a degree from an accredited institution, my certification was granted and I was safe. But I couldn't let it go. I needed to know why UPX was getting so much bad press from people. I went through the program just fine. So I decided to ask people around me who had atteded UPX online how they were doing. Out of the three people I asked two had a favorable opinion of the school. So I decided to ask questions about peoples views of learning online and many people seem to like the idea but the majority of them think that learning online is easy. If there is anyone out there who is considering or knows someone who has completed and online program, I'd like to hear from you. Feel free to post any ideas or comments to this article. There will be more additions to come.

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