Receiving a college degree is a proud moment for any individual, whether they are 22 or 62, whether it took them four years or six. This is the ultimate goal of education, right? To be happy with one’s achievements and to have the hope for providing a better future for yourself and for those that you support is priceless. Having graduated ten years ago from University, I didn’t have the option of taking online course when I was in school and haven’t had any experiences getting a lecture from a professor through a podcast. I have attended online webinars countless times and been involved in business meetings over skype, but I’m never given an exam over these experiences after the fact.
In today’s society, Internet learning (along with Internet everything else) is growing rapidly. Online classes and lectures are a great benefit when perhaps a professor is out of town or for someone going back to school later in life and has a semester where they would prefer to be home with their kids too. Making education more accessible is a huge benefit to our society and for the future of our country in order to be competitive with other nations. But having felt so positively about my own non-online college experience, I can’t help but wonder if this trend may not be one that we want to dive into head first. One aspect of college classes that was most beneficial for me was the interaction. I was forced to be in groups with other students that didn’t think like me and stand up for decisions that I made in the actual presence of group members or professors, not just over email. In a tough business environment, this is critical. Are young adults who are taking over half of their classes online really getting this experience and this knowledge?
Another troubling fact that I have encountered regarding the effectiveness of online classes comes from some of the interns that have worked for me. I hear them discussing their schedules for next semester and one person advising the other to take a particular course online since it’s so much easier. Are the standards for these types of classes really being held as high as those for standard classes? Is an online class made easier because the pressure of sitting in a classroom with no means of cheating on an exam isn’t there? The natural pressure and situational factors of dealing with a professor and a class in person are incredibly beneficial in the real world.
I know that there are some colleges that don’t offer many online courses and students do it all the old-fashioned way. Should the degree of someone who barely stepped in a classroom be valued equally? I’m not saying that an online degree can’t have as much value, I’m simply stating that the system should have some way to note what type of degree a student has earned.