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ONLINE EDUCATION: EMPOWERING STUDENTS WITH


THE ADVANTAGE OF EDUCATION BEYOND WALLS

Part One: Introduction to Online Education


With advancement in technology, e-learning has experienced an accelerated development
in recent years. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2008), the
number of K-12 public school students enrolling in a technology based distance education
program grew by 65% in two years from 2002-03 to 2004-05. In recent times, this number
has gone up to a million students (Picciano and Seaman, 2009).
There is a noted increase in interest in this form of learning due to easy and widespread
access to internet facilities all over the United States. Add to that the advance cellular
and computer technologies now easily available and affordable for a large majority of
Americans, and you can explain the increasing popularity trends in online education.

1. What are the features of an online course?

Modes of Instruction
Contrary to common belief, there are more than one type of online instruction
modes available. Here are a few commonly used methods of online teaching:

a.

Purely online No face-to-face interaction

b.

Blended learning Combination of online and face-to-face


learningopportunities

c.

Synchronous E-learning commonly supported by media such


asvideoconferencing and chat. Learners and teachers experience
synchronous learning

d.

Asynchronous Commonly facilitated by media such as e-mail


anddiscussion boards, suitable for learners and teachers who find it
difficult to be online at the same time

e.

Instructor-led group

f.

Self-study

g.

Self-study with subject matter expert

h.

Web-based

i.

Computer-based (CD-ROM)

j.

Video/audio tape

How to Access Online Courses Learning Management Systems


Most universities or institutes that offer online degrees and certificates have an
online education portal on their websites. In circumstances where the universitys
entire system of operations revolves around online education, the website will
most likely be a very comprehensive one with all the relevant information
available.

Learning Management Systems (LMS): A Learning Management System is a


softwareapplication for the administration, documentation, reporting, tracking and
delivery of electronic educational technology courses. You will typically be given a login
and password to access this software. All your online submissions will be stored in this
portal, allowing you access whenever you want. Once you are done with your degree, the
password will expire and you will no longer have access to these study materials.

Components of an LMS:
1.

There is no standard definition of the components of a learning management


system, but several features are common:

2.

Creation of class roasters, control over the registration procedure and


the ability to generate waiting lists

3.

Uploading and management of documents containing educational


content

4.

Delivery of course content over the internet, most often giving access to
remote participants to interact with instructors or other pupils

5.

Creation and publication of calendars for courses

6.

Student interaction via instant messaging, discussion boards and email

7.

Methods of assessment and testing (quizzes and assignments)

8.

Reporting grades

How do Online Programs work at the Universitys End? Administration and

Profitability
Looking at things from the perspective of a university, the business aspect of online
education comes in play. Universities are concerned with the financial sustainability of
these programs. They need to know the cost and benefit of running an online portal and
offering facilities via the web.
This mode of instruction has seen various ups and downs over the course of 20 or so
years: o New York University (NYU) launched and soon shut down its online
counterpart.
o Pensare launched a program to deliver online courses to top-tier business
schools in January 2000, and sold it to Dukes Business School in June 2001.
o

Caliber filed for bankruptcy in January, 2002, only 2 years after it


partnered with Wharton.

Three years after establishing the Cardean Learning Group, a consortium


with Stanford, London School of Economics and Columbia, UNext was
dissolved in January 2003.

o October, 2003 saw MIT launch OCW and publish 500 open courses.
o

By November, 2007, MIT had realized its goal of posting over 1,800 open
courses.

As with any new technological boom, e-learning has made its fair share of profits and losses.
The education industry is a $1 trillion market and consistently growing as newer areas start
to emphasize on the need for education for entire populations. How are online
educationists planning on tapping this market? Will it involve transfer of existing revenue
from current providers or creation of opportunities to generate new revenue?
These are very fundamental questions. Right now, no formal business model for online
education exists. However, new possibilities continue to emerge as to how online education can
provide a profitable business for the universities that offer it. Many universities have started to
take the following steps in order to make online education a profitable venture.

Charging for certifications: Make it a requirement for students to pay


fordocumentation that attests students actually gained knowledge and
skills through online courses.

Charging for assessment and credit: The value equation to the student is
topay the tuition cost and fees to get credit, avoid living costs, and speed
up the time it takes to graduate, therefore entering the job market as early
as possible.

Data mining: Selling data on students and their academic performance


topotential employers.

Cross-selling/Up-selling: Using online platforms as a way to reach


studentsand educate them about products related to what they are
studying, or offer more advanced courses.

Advertising: With the help of sponsored ads, use advertising as a mode


ofpromoting free software, such as Google offers free Gmail, and Facebook.

Keep asking for feedback: Students and faculty who use the
universitiessystems have the greatest amount of firsthand knowledge about
these facilities. They are aware of all the shortcomings of a system and are in
a better position to make very viable and useful critiques on the system.
Several universities take this as constructive criticism and try to improve
their facilities, making them more profitable and accessible for greater
populations.

2. What is the impact of online education on our Economy?

Impact on the Economy US & Global


The education industry, like any other industry, needs to evolve. New upgraded
technologies and processes need to be adopted to maintain competitive edge in
a trillion dollar industry. With the spending on IT related products and
technologies increasing, there is a greater need for professionals and businesses
with scalable, online training solutions.

Looking at things from the economic perspective, the global economy is far from
stable. Job markets are more competitive than ever and unemployment rates are
going through the roof, making additional training and development of students, an
absolute necessity. Students now need a lot more education and training to be able to
penetrate and contribute positively towards the job market and the US economy.

Creation of a mobile workforce: The global economy has transitioned into a


mobileworkforce, helping businesses to be conducted from mobile devices, making
geography irrelevant. These very devices are now being employed in the education
sector as well to close the gap between what businesses need from their employees and
what is actually being taught in schools; by making online education accessible to all
parts of the United States and beyond, spreading skillful knowledge exactly where it is
needed.

Online enrollments
In 2007-08, approximately 4.3 million undergraduate students, amounting to
nearly 20 percent of all undergraduates, took at least one e-learning course.
Around 4% of all undergraduate students took their entire program online. There
has been a noted increase in the enrollments for online programs over the years.
For instance, in 2003-04, distance education courses were taken by nearly 16% of
undergraduate students; in 2007-08, this number increased to 20%. Here is a look
at a few statistics relevant to distance learning courses (NCES, 2012):

Undergraduate students who took at least one online course were


2,582,475, whereas graduate students were 227,467.

Public, 4-year institutions had 2,406,908 number of student enrolled in


distance learning course, whereas private 4-year institutions had 257,599
students enrolled in distance learning course.

The largest numbers of students with an online degree were enrolled in


institutes granting primarily baccalaureate or other advanced degrees.

Degree with the most enrollments


According to data provided by the Sloan Consortium, the greatest enrollments in
online program were witnessed in the field of engineering, followed closely by
computer and information sciences. Education, business, psychology, social
sciences and history, liberal arts and sciences, general studies, humanities and
health related sciences also saw considerable enrollments in online programs, as
of 2009-10.

Job opportunities
Even though employers show a general preference towards graduates with
traditional degrees, there has been a noted increase in the interest shown by
employers in online training and educational programs. These degrees and
certifications can be obtained along with an existing professional life, and can
be tailored to meet the exact needs of a particular employer.
You can even get multiple certifications and short courses online as a quick way
of learning certain skills. Due to this increasing employer preference, online
education is gaining momentum, and the enrollments in these courses are
showing steady growth.

3. Advantages: Why opt for online education?


Online education is beneficial to students at various levels, depending on their
unique personal and professional needs. On a general level, the following
benefits make online learning an attractive option for many students:

Time Flexibility
One of the foremost reasons why people choose online education over
traditional forms of instruction is the time flexibility that it offers. Students are
given the opportunity to learn at a pace that suits them the best and form a
schedule according to their personal needs.
This is ideal for professionals, since they do not have to quit their jobs to go back
to college. They can continue to work and complete educational requirements by
taking evening or weekend classes.
The time flexibility and the option of tailoring a program as per the individual
needs, is a factor that makes online education an attractive prospect for
employers as well. Many organizations facilitate their employees online
education to help them improve their work ethics and skills, tailored to their
particular job description. [A large majority of students pursuing online degrees
and certificates are doing so for employment-related reasons.]

Ease of accessibility
All the coursework will be typically accessible for students, whenever and
wherever they need it. Students can review lectures, explanations, discussions

and comments. They can also share notes with each other to help facilitate
community learning.

Range of options
Since these programs are online, students can go for any specialization, right from
the comfort of their home. A larger variety of subjects and degree levels is
available, all through an internet connection and a computer. Some online
colleges offer courses in areas where such courses are not even available via
traditional, on campus teaching methods.

Students make their own study schedule


On-campus courses are typically scheduled in a more rigid format, with classes
running for 50 minutes, on average. Night classes may last for nearly three hours.
One of the benefits of online education is that you can construct a schedule
according to your personal needs. You do not have to worry about running late
for class or missing it. You can simply log on to the online portal and catch up with
the rest of the class, whenever it is convenient for you.

Lower costs
Typically, online colleges are considered a more affordable option than traditional
colleges. However, this is not a general rule applicable to all online programs.
There might be some degrees that cost more online than their on campus
counterparts, in terms of tuition fees. But on average, associated costs are almost
always less for online colleges. For instance, there are minimal commuting costs,
textbooks costs, etc. Some web-based classes may not even require textbooks as
reading materials are available in the colleges library or via a partnering
elibrary(s). Online courses may also help students cut down or eliminate
babysitters cost and any other expenses incurred by attending classes in a
traditional setting. In addition to that, many colleges and universities have now
begun to accept credits earned via freemassive open online courses (MOOCs). This
is the most recent development in online education where free online courses can
help students fulfill their course requirements at little or no cost.

Can be done away from the current state

Online education does not make distinction between in-state and out-of-state
students. This mode of instruction crosses all state and country boundaries and has
the tendency of providing you with quality education from thousands of miles away.
With traditional degrees, students prefer to stay in-state, to save money on tuition,

room and board. This may limit their degree options. Online education offers a
solution to this problem.

Much more interaction with other students

Online education gives students the opportunity of getting one-on-one attention from
instructors in a comfortable environment. Some students do not speak up in
traditional classrooms due to shyness, etc. This mode of instruction provides a
solution to that. Students might feel more comfortable talking openly with their
teachers through online discussion forums, emails and chats, rather than facttoface
interaction. Another convenience is that the students dont have to wait for their turn
outside the instructors office. They can simply drop an email that will get answered.

Online students win over traditional students

According to the U.S. Department of Education: on average students in online


learning conditions performed modestly better than those receiving face-to-face
instruction." Using over 1,000 empirical studies, the DOE was able to determine that
additional time was the factor that helped students perform better. The report noted
that online students spent more time on the actual task assigned than students in a
face-to-face setting.

Wider access to resources through online learning

Online learning opens the whole world of resources to its students. There are many
universities that give their students access to various e-libraries and research portals.
In addition to that, all your course material is available online, along with helping
assignments and practice tests.

4. Who should enroll in online programs?


Online programs can be a viable option for any student looking for a convenient and
flexible education program. But as a whole, there are several noticeable trends as to which
population groups are showing a preference for this mode of instruction, as opposed to
traditional instruction. Following are a few statistics taken from the National Center for
Education Statistics, 2011-12:

The total number of students taking any online, weekend or night classes was
11,917,000.

32% of the students were taking at least one online class

28.5% were male, and 34.5% were female

40.9% of the online students were aged 30 or older

28.8% were taking exclusively full time classes and 35.3% were taking exclusively
part-time classes

36.2% had a job during the academic year and 24.9% did not

25.5% of the online education students were dependent

33.6% were not married and were independent with no dependents

37.4% were independent, married and had no dependents

38.2% were independent, with dependents and not married

44.9% were independent, with dependents and married

The increasing popularity of online education is evidenced by the sheer number of


students now taking at least one online course. This flexible way of learning has attracted
51.7 percent of the total undergraduate students in the US. Trends within this large
number show a greater number of females enrolled in online programs as compared to
males.
Another interesting point to note is the large number of students taking online classes
above the age of 30. This goes to show that most people who take interest in this method
of education are well beyond the typical college student age group. This category could
include people in high powered careers looking to develop more skills without having to
quit their jobs, single parents, and people looking to switch careers.
44.9% of the students which were enrolled in online programs of any sort, were
independent, married and had people depending on them for income. This huge
percentage of Americans is married with kids and is looking to make some extra income for
an improved lifestyle.

5. Is the demand for online students comparable to traditional learning outcomes?


The answer to this question is a matter of opinion. Many employers believe that online
education is just as viable in the job market as the traditional, on-campus learning degrees.
However, there are also those who believe that the skills learned through a traditional
learning program cannot be fully gained with an online program.
Those in Favor of Online Education
These employers are of the opinion that with accrediting agencies, high quality graduates
and the reputation of institutes granting the degrees, online degrees are becoming much
more credible than they were once believed to be.

More and more employers are now becoming aware of online degrees and their
importance in the complex job market. Nearly 61% of CEOs and small business owners
nationwide reported that they were familiar with online or distance learning programs,
according to a report by CNN in 2010. Approximately 83% of executives in the survey said
that an online degree is as credible as one earned through traditional modes of education.
Those Against Online Education
These employers believe that since traditional educational systems have been around for
hundreds of years, therefore they trust them over the nascent online courses and degrees.
For these employers, online education is relatively less trustworthy.
In addition to that, these employers believe that an online school can only provide a
fraction of the experience a traditional school can. They would, ideally, prefer a candidate
with a traditional education, instead of someone who chose the more convenient and
flexible option.

6. How are the faculty members of online programs trained?


Training the Online Educators
The faculty for online education is more often than not, instructors switched from
traditional educational systems to online modes of instruction. In most cases,
some formal or informal training takes place, prior to, or during this process.
Training opportunities involve activities such as workshops, online classes
and resources, as well as one-on-one assistance from university personnel
and colleagues at some point while teaching online.
Faculty members are sometimes subjected to a very formal and stringent training
program involving a step by step procedure for all the technologically challenging
aspects of e-learning. There are institutions for the education of online educators.

The training gives an in depth breakdown of everything related to online education.


For instance, it would tell you what a module it, how to upload it, how to give a
title to your module, how to create an introduction page and so on. The training
process might be aided through the use of videos and other forms of media to
make it more interactive and easy to understand. In addition to instructional
forms, online educators are also given literature and reading materials to help
them understand online education in greater detail.
Below mentioned are some of the types of training faculty members receive.

One-on-One Assistance: This involves valuable assistance of a live


person.

Educators can ask these assistants any kind of questions that they have
regarding online learning and get answers in a quick and customized
manner. The individuals answering your questions typically have lots of
experience in the relevant field and have a strong grasp on the dynamics
of online learning.

Colleagues: Most people believe in the power of formalized


training.However, it is important to note that most problematic
questions arise during the process of online teaching. At that point, the
best trainers are the colleagues.

Additional Positive Assistance: In addition to hands-on training,


anotherhelpful measure of understanding the dynamics of online
education is resources and helping books. Some training programs have a
Best Practices course, designed to help gain a deeper understanding of
the pedagogy of teaching online. Certificate training programs at times
have videos and resources embedded in their program as well to allow
educators to go back and revise something they might have forgotten.

Three Key Factors:


The faculty for online programs is chosen according to their area of expertise and
can be chosen from a global forum of teachers. A few things that the faculty for
this mode of instruction should ideally have involve these three important
statistics:
1Years of Experience: Online teaching involves a different skill set and an
entirely different learning experience. Therefore, the experience of an instructor
in online modes of instruction - or the lack of it - can have an impact on the
quality of a particular course.
Those with greater experience in the field of online instruction are likely to
perform better in the virtual classroom. However, this does not mean that
those who havent taught online are necessarily going to be bad at it.
2Formal Training: Even though the basic task remains the same in both
forms of instruction, formal training helps makes the transition from traditional
teaching to online teaching. Teachers that receive support, training and
development mandated by their schools or colleges, are likely to turn the online
classroom into a better experience for students.
3Accessibility: It is very important for students to have a significant amount
of easy access to the instructors. You can judge the quality of an online instruction
by analyzing how responsive and willing a teacher is to interact with students.
Due to the lack of face-to-face interaction, it is very important for instructors
to ensure accessibility to students. Accessibility can be improved by replying
to emails promptly, checking assignments regularly and giving comprehensive
feedback.

The teaching method


Typically instructors in an online program would be required to create a study plan,
similar to that of a traditional, on-campus course. This study plan should ensure that the
integrity and quality of education is maintained and it must incorporate the fact that an
online degree has to be taught slightly differently from a traditional degree.
The teachers will have to understand the usage of learning management systems. This is
where they will upload study schedules, materials, resources, assignment questions,
quizzes, checked assignments, date sheets, important notices and discussion boards.

Instead of conducting these activities in live classrooms, the entire system is


shifted online.
Some online instructors also give live video lectures, while others record their
lectures and upload them for the students convenience. Live classrooms allow
students from different locations to log in at the same time, and interact with other
students and the instructor.
In addition to that, online instructors are always in touch with their students
via emails. Since face to face interaction is very limited, emails are the easiest
and quickest form of communication.

Testimonials of Online Teachers


Michelle Everson Senior lecturer in the Department of Educational Psychology at
theUniversity of Minnesota says:
In a bachelors degree in genetics, students will be able to concentrate on a
particular genetics field, such as evolutionary genetics, molecular genetics or genomics. This
would be a science intensive program and prepares graduates for possible laboratory work
also allow students to participate in
after graduation. Many undergraduate programs
supervised scholarly research.
I feel fortunate in that I have opportunities to teach both in the classroom and
online, and I honestly feel that teaching online has made me a better instructor. The
online teaching experience has provided me with so many great opportunities that
I just don't get in the classroom. For example, in a traditional classroom, you can
walk around and listen to bits and pieces of various group discussions, but you can't
hear everything that's said in every group. But online, you have a window into every
single discussion, letting you overhear and correct misinformation

No matter what I teach, the ultimate goal is that students learn the material,
and it still constantly amazes me that we can now provide opportunities outside
a typical classroom setting for students to learn.
Ali Carr-Chellman Head of the Learning and Performance Systems Department in the
Collegeof Education at the Penn State University says:
I have been teaching in an online environment for many years. But it wasnt
without great trepidation that I approached the enterprise of online learning in
higher education. The research here is pretty clear: meta analyses of empirical
research studies have shown that really there is no significant difference
between online and face-to-face in traditional measures of achievement in most
contexts. This is good news, it means that online learning is working.
Audie Rubin Provost Academy Colorado, says:
Online is a valuable education choice for many Colorado students and their
families seeking an alternative to the traditional high school setting, whether
because a need for more challenging classes, family circumstances or the need
for flexibility. For many students, virtual high schools have meant the difference
between giving up on school altogether and earning a high school diploma.
In a traditional school, time is fixed and learning is variable. The flexible,
webbased curriculum offered through online education has flipped this dated
approach, making learning fixed and time variable to meet the specific learning
needs of each student.
Scott McLoeadAssociate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of
Kentuckysays:
Online learning opportunities for K-12 students are growing by leaps and
bounds. The most recent Keeping Pace report for the U.S. shows that over a
million students already are taking at least some online classes. Last year the
Florida Virtual School alone provided 260,000 online course enrollments.
Harvard professor Clayton Christensen estimates that by 2019 about half of all
high schoolcourses will be delivered virtually. Online learning opportunities that
formerlywere reserved for working adults or college students have rapidly
filtered all the way down to elementary children.

7. Online credit hour completion and getting your certification


What is an online credit hour, and how is it measured?
A credit hour is defined as the equivalent of a clock hour (50 minutes) of lecture time for
a single student, per week over the course of a semester. This definition, though, does
not apply strictly to online modes of instruction due to the difficulty in measuring the
time invested by a student on a daily or weekly basis.

There are some universities that have adopted a method to create equality between the
credit hour systems of the two instruction modes. For instance, if the learning outcomes of
a three credit hour course are achieved by a weekly nine hour input of time (including out
of class activities and extracurricular), the online three credit hour course will also be
designed to ensure that students are putting in nine hours of time and effort every week as
well, to achieve the desired learning outcomes.
For other universities, the process is simpler If a course is offered both traditionally and
online then the quality of the education and credit awarded is equivalent.
On average, when determining credit hour completions and how they should be classified,
the following considerations are kept in mind:

The average time spent on screen, is generally accepted to be 3-5 minutes

Media assets, animations and videos may be listened to, or watched multiple
times; The average time to read an article or watch a video is taken as a
benchmark

Simulations and interactions can be tricky, since they will significantly depend
on the learners profile and capabilities. The best way to gauge this is to
develop an average based on the specific interaction and expertise of the
teacher on the particular assignment

Assignments are dependent on the time allocated for completion based on


instructor and course requirements

How can you get your online certification?


Once you have fulfilled all the credit hour requirements, you will need to get in touch with your
instructors and the college administration. You could do this via email, though an oncampus visit
would be recommended. The first order of business would be to cross check your completed
credit hours with your universitys records. If the numbers match, check for the minimum
required number of credit hours that you need to graduate. If you meet this requirement as
well, you are all set to graduate and receive your online certification.
The certification is typically provided by the admissions office. To get the attested and stamped
certificate, get in touch with your university, either online or on-campus.

Part Two: Starting an online program

The first step in determining your path towards online education is analyzing where you
stand at the moment. You first need to consider your prior educational qualifications and
future plans. Prior educational qualification could be a high school diploma or GED, or it

could also be a masters degree. Therefore, it would matter significantly in determining


the degree level you can go for now.
Second, consider your future plans. This would determine the major for you. If you want to
become a police officer, or a magistrate, you could consider choosing a criminal justice
major. Similarly, if you want to go for a healthcare profession, you could look into
registered nurses programs and so on.
Once you factor in these two, you can start looking for online schools that offer these
programs. Your best source of information is the internet itself, since online educators
provide detailed program overviews on their websites. Once you are done researching, you
should be able to shortlist colleges. Shortlisting would be a process determined by your
individual needs. You could shortlist based on the criteria listed below.

Since some online programs would require minimal on campus visits, therefore the
distance between your home and the campus must be factored in.

Cost of tuition

Faculty

Accreditation

Flexibility of timings, scheduling and determining course plans

Accessibility, quality and quantity of the resources provided by the college

Job placement efforts of the university

Extent of technical support provided to online students

When you have brought your selection down to two or three colleges, you need to
research deeper. Find out exactly what sort of programs are each of these institutes
offering. Find the program that is closest to your study preferences, and that can set you
on your desired career path. After this, all you have to do is follow the admission
procedure of the college, and get yourself enrolled in the online program of your choice.

8. How Should You Choose the Right School?


Even though your personal preferences and needs will largely determine the school of your
choice, there are nevertheless a few factors that should be common check points for all
students:
Accreditation

The United States does not have a federal Ministry of Education or any other centralized
authority to solely exercise national control over all the post-secondary educational
institutions in the country. The states exercise varying degrees of control over education.

However, institutions of higher education are allowed to operate with significant autonomy.
As a result, the educational institutions in the United States vary significantly in the
character and quality of their programs.
Since educational institutions required insurance for a basic level of quality, the practice of
accreditation was started in United States. Private educational associations of regional and
national level have adopted criteria which indicate a sound educational program. They have
also developed procedures of evaluation to find out if the educational institutions are
operating at a basic level of quality.
There is a long list of agencies that provide accrediting services for degree granting
institutes in the United States. There is no one public agency that exercises national control
over postsecondary educational institutes in the US.
In order to ensure a basic uniformity in the quality of the programs offered in various
colleges, the practice of accreditation has gained considerable importance. This practice has
become a means of conducting nongovernmental, peer evaluation of educational programs
and institutes.
The functions served by accreditation are as follows:

Verifies an institution or a program which meets set standards;

o Helps prospective students to select acceptable institutions;


o Assists intuitions in the acceptability of transfer credits;

Helps investors to identify programs and institutions where they can


invest;

Prevents an institution against harmful internal and external pressure;

Sets standards and goals of self-improvement for weaker programs;

o
o

Stimulates a general increase of standards among educational


institutions;
Enhances the participation of faculty and staff in evaluation and planning;

Establishes criteria for professional certification and to upgrade courses


which offer such training;

Serves as a consideration to determine eligibility for Federal assistance.

The Accrediting Procedure

The accrediting agency collaborates with educational institutions to establish


standards.

The institution or program requiring accreditation prepares a detailed


selfstudy to measure its performance against the standards set by the
accrediting agency.

A team selected by the accrediting agency visits the institution for on-site
evaluation. The team personally determines if the applicant meets
established requirements.

If the applicant meets the established standards, the accrediting agency


gives accreditation or pre-accreditation status, and lists the institution in an
official publication, with other accredited or pre-accredited institutions and
programs.

The accrediting agency keeps monitoring each accredited institution


throughout the period of accreditation to verify that the institution

continues to meet the agencys standards.

The accrediting agency reevaluates each institution or program included in


its list, in order to find out whether an institution can continue with the
accredited or pre-accredited status.

Types of Accreditation

There are two basic types of educational accreditation, one referred to as "institutional"
and the other referred to as "specialized" or "programmatic."

Institutional Accreditation
Institutional accreditation applies to an entire institution. It reflects that each part of an
institution is contributing to the achievement of institutions objectives. However, each part
may not be contributing at the same level of quality. There are a number of regional as well
as national accrediting agencies that perform institutional accreditation.

Specialized or Programmatic Accreditation


Specialized accreditation is for specific programs, departments, or schools that are within
an institution. The accredited units can vary in their size. Some may be as large as a college
or school within a university or as small as a curriculum within a discipline. Most specialized
accrediting agencies review units of an institution that is already accredited by one of the
regional accrediting agencies.

However, certain accrediting agencies also accredit professional schools and other
specialized vocational institutions that are independent in their operations. So, a
specialized accrediting agency may take the role of an institutional accrediting agency in
some cases. Many specialized accrediting agencies also accredit educational programs in
non-educational settings such as hospitals.

Students need to keep in mind some important points regarding accreditation:

Accreditation does not mean that you can automatically be accepted to


another intuition from an accredited one.

Accreditation does not give an assurance of acceptance of graduates by


employers.

Acceptance of credit or graduates is always dependent on the receiving


institution of employer.

Besides considering an accredited status, students need to consider


whether their educational goals will be met through a particular
institution.

Students may make inquiries to institution where they wish to transfer


credits or to prospective employers.

Bodies That Accredit Online Programs and Institutes


Regional and National Institutional Accrediting Agencies
The following regional and national accrediting agencies are recognized by the Secretary as
reliable authorities. They can assess the quality of education and training, which is offered by
institutions of higher education or education programs.

Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

The agencys scope lies in accrediting post-secondary, non-degree-granting institutions and


degree-granting institutions in the United States. These institutions include those awarding
associate, baccalaureate and masters degrees. Degree programs accredited by the agency
mostly aim to educate students for occupational, trade, and technical careers. The agency
also accredits institutions offering programs via distance education.

MichaleMcComis, Executive Director


2101 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 302 Arlington,
Virginia 22201
Tel. (703) 247-4212, Fax (703) 247-4533 Emailaddress:mccomis@accsc.org Web

address: www.accsc.org Accrediting


Council for Continuing Education and
Training

The agency accredits institutions of higher education throughout the United States that
award certificates or occupational associate degrees, including programs offered by
distance education.

William V. Larkin, Executive Director


1722 N Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Tel. (202) 955-1113, Fax (202) 955-1118 Email address: wvlarkin@accet.org

Web address: www.accet.org

Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools

The agency accredits private postsecondary institutions offering certificates or diplomas,


and postsecondary institutions offering associate, bachelor's, or master's degrees in
programs aimed to educate students for occupational, technical, and professional careers.
It also accredits institutions that offer those programs via distance education.

Albert C. Gray Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer


750 First Street, NE, Suite 980
Washington, DC 20002-4242
Tel. (202) 336-6780, Fax (202) 842-2593
E-mail address: agray@acics.org
Web address: www.acics.org

Council on Occupational Education

The agency grants accreditation and pre-accreditation (candidacy status) throughout the
United States to postsecondary occupational education institutions, which offer non degree
and applied associate degree programs in career and technical education. It also grants
accreditation to institutions offering distance education programs.

Gary Puckett, Executive Director


7840 Roswell Road, Building 300, Suite 325
Atlanta, Georgia 30350
Tel. (770) 396-3898, (800) 917-2081, Fax (770) 396-3790
E-mail address: puckettg@council.org
Web address: www.council.org

Distance Education and Training Council, Accrediting Commission

The agency accredits postsecondary institutions in the United States that offer degree programs
mainly in distance education including professional doctorate degrees.

Leah K. Matthews, Executive Director


1601 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
Tel. (202) 234-5100, Fax (202) 332-1386
E-mail address: info@detc.org
Web address:www.detc.org

Middle States Commission on Higher Education

The agency gives accreditation and pre-accreditation (candidacy status) to institutions of higher
education in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York,

Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These institutions also include the
ones that offer distance and correspondence education programs.

Elizabeth H. Sibolski, President


3624 Market Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
Tel. (267) 284-5000, Fax (215) 662-5950
E-mail address: info@msche.org
Web address: www.msche.org

Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools

The agency accredits institutions with postsecondary, non-degree granting career and
technology programs in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, the

Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These
institutions include those offering all or part of their programs by distance education.
Henry Cram, President
3624 Market Street, 2 West
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-2680
Tel. (267) 284-5000, Fax (215) 662-0957 Email address: kkastle@cess-msa.org

Web address: www.css-msa.org

New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of


Higher Education

The agency grants accreditation and pre-accreditation (candidacy status) to institutions of


higher education in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and
Vermont. Institutions accredited by the agency include those awarding associate, bachelors,
masters or doctorate degrees and having liberal arts or general studies among their
offerings.
Barbara E. Brittingham, Director
3 Burlington Woods Drive, Suite 100
Burlington, Massachusetts 01803-4514
Tel. (781) 425-7700, Fax (781) 425-1001
E-mail address:bbrittingham@neasc.org
Web address: http://cihe.neasc.org

New York State Board of Regents, and the Commissioner of Education

The agency accredits degree granting institutions of higher education in New York. These
institutions also include those institutions which offer distance education programs and
designate the agency as their sole or primary nationally recognized agency.

John B. King, Jr., Commissioner of Education State Education Department The University of
the State of New York
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 12234
Tel. (518) 474-5844 Fax (518) 473-4909 EMail address: jking@mail.nysed.gov

Web address: www.nysed.gov

North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

The agency awards accreditation and pre-accreditation (Candidacy status) to degree


awarding institutions of higher education in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana,
Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio,
Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. These institutions
include tribal, as well as programs offered by distance education within institutions.

Sylvia Manning, President


230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
Chicago, Illinois 60604-1413
Tel. (312) 263-0456, (800) 621-7440, Fax (312) 263-7462
E-mail address: smanning@hlcommission.org
Web address: www.ncahigherlearningcommission.org

Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

This agency gives accreditation and pre-accreditation status (Candidacy status) to


postsecondary degree granting educational institutions in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada,
Oregon, Utah, and Washington. It also accredits programs offered via distance education
within these institutions.

Sandra E. Elman, President

8060

165th Avenue, NE, Suite 100


Redmond, Washington 98052
Tel. (425) 558-4224, Fax (425) 376-0596
E-mail address: selman@nwccu.org
Web address: www.nwccu.org

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

The agency gives accreditation and pre-accreditation (candidacy status) to degree granting
institutions of higher education in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana,
Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. It also
accredits programs offered by distance education, within these institutions.

Belle S. Wheelan, President


1866 Southern Lane
Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097
Tel. (404) 679-4512, Fax (404) 679-4528 Email address: bwheelan@sacscoc.org

Web address: www.sacscoc.org


Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Commission

The agency awards accreditation and pre-accreditation (candidacy status) to Christian


postsecondary institutions in the United States. These pre-accredited and accredited
institutions offer diplomas, certificates, and associate and baccalaureate, and graduate
degrees. Accreditation is also given to institutions that offer distance education.
T. Paul Boatner, President P.O. Box 328 Forest, Virginia 24551
Tel. (434) 525-9539, Fax (434) 525-9538
E-mail address: info@tracs.org
Web address: www.tracs.org

Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Community


and Junior Colleges

The agency grants accreditation and pre-accreditation (candidacy status) for two-year
associate degree awarding institutions in California, Hawaii, the United States territories of
Guam and American Samoa, the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
Programs offered via distance education at these institutions are also accredited by the
agency.

Barbara A. Beno, President


10 Commercial Boulevard, Suite 204
Novato, California 94949
Tel. (415) 506-0234, Fax (415) 506-0238
E-mail address: accjc@accjc.org
Web address: www.wascweb.org

Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges
and Universities

The agency gives accreditation and pre-accreditation (candidacy status) to senior colleges
and universities in California, Hawaii, the United States territories of Guam and American
Samoa, the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Commonwealth of
the Northern Mariana Islands and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Accreditation is also
given to distance education programs offered at those institutions.
Mary Ellen Petrisko President
985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100
Alameda, California 94501
Tel. (510) 748-9001, Fax (510) 748-9797 Email address: wascsr@wascsenior.org

Web address: www.wascweb.org

Database of Accredited Programs and Institutions

The Department of Education offers a searchable database of postsecondary institutions


and programs, which are accredited by agencies recognized by the U.S. Secretary of
Education. The U.S. Secretary of Education recognizes those agencies to be reliable
authorities to assess quality of education and training. It also recognizes institutions
accredited by those agencies to be reliable in terms of quality of education. If a program or
institution is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, it gives a reasonable
assurance of quality and acceptance by employers of diplomas and degrees.
With the help of this database, students can search for an institution and easily find out if it is
accredited. They can also confirm the authenticity of an accrediting agency through this
database. To verify an institution, they just need to input the name of institution, address, city,
and the state. In order to verify an accrediting agency, they need to input the name of state and
look for the accrediting agency from the list of agencies available in the database.

What accreditation means for students?


Prospective students should take sufficient time to compare the programs they are
considering. This will help them in keeping right expectations from their preferred
programs. Accreditation can really help students to set some accurate expectations.

Council for Higher Education Accreditation defines accreditation to be both a process and
a status. If a school or a program has received accreditation status through a rigorous
process, conducted by a reputable accrediting agency, this can provide an overview on a
range of aspects such as academics, student support, and basic level of quality.
Students should also consider additional implications of enrolling in and completing a program
from an accredited institution:

Financial Aid: The U.S. Department of Education requires schools to be accredited inorder to
participate in federal financial aid programs (e.g., Pell Grants, Perkins
Loans). If you are looking for financial aid, go for an accredited school.

Transfer Credit: It is not mandatory for school to accept transfer credit from anyother
school. However, accreditation can play a role in the process. It is unlikely that institutions
will grant transfer credit if it was earned at a non-accredited institution. Students who are
enrolling in courses with the expectation that they will transfer those credits at a later date
should closely assess the accreditation of the current school. They also need to look at
guidelines given by the school they want to transfer in future.

Employment: Employers are likely to find graduates from accredited schools morevaluable
than the graduates from unaccredited schools. Accreditation offers assurance to employers
that the program maintains quality academic standards and substantially contributes to the
knowledge and skills of the students.

Continued Education: Graduate school admission offices are much more likely tolook
favorably on students who completed their undergraduate program from an accredited
program, and in many cases it may be prerequisite for application and enrollment.

Accrediting authorities work as advocates for students, as they conduct thorough research to
find out the level of quality provided to the students. Prospective students can make use of
this information to make the best choice from accredited colleges.
How to find accredited colleges and programs?
It can be quite overwhelming for students to understand various requirements of
accreditation. Luckily, there are several ways prospective students can check the
accreditation status of the schools and programs they are considering. The following can
help you make an informed decision of selecting an accredited online college:

The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs:

This database is maintained by the U.S. Department of Education and enables users to find
accredited schools by name and location. It also provides a list of authentic accrediting
agencies for educational institutions.

Database of Institutions and Programs Accredited by Recognized United


States Accrediting Organization:

This site is a project of CHEA (Council for Higher Education Accreditation) and
provides a list of accredited schools and programs that you can search by
location, field of study, and accrediting agency.

Directory of Recognized Organizations:

This is another resource offered by CHEA. The resource provides users with a list to find
out if that particular accrediting agency has met the organizations standards.

College Navigator:
This popular search tool provided by National Center for Education Statistics offers
school profile pages that give information on the accreditation status of institutions
and agencies, and also provide lots of other relevant information.

Accrediting agency websites:

You also have the option to look for lists of accredited colleges and universities that
are provided by the agencies themselves. For example, the Higher Learning Commission
offers a Directory of Institutions with information about their status.
websites:

College

You can also find accreditation information on individual school websites. You
can search the website by using accreditation as a keyword and check for
accreditation details in sections of About Us and Academics. If you dont find
sufficient information, you can contact the admission office for more details.

Before you enroll in a new program, it is recommended that you carry out thorough
research on accreditation status and cross check schools that are under consideration. The
resources listed above can help you ensure that you are enrolling in an accredited program
or attending an accredited college.

Online Learning and Accreditation Mills


In the past, online education has been associated with poor accreditation practices. The
situation is improving over time as online learning is becoming popular, and traditional
institutes are developing online degree options. As more options are being offered by
accredited online institutions, it is important for students to understand that all accreditation
is not equal.
Students particularly need to stay aware of the fraudulent for-profits, generally known as
accreditation mills. They readily put a seal of approval on any educational institute which is
willing to pay them money. If students enroll in an institution accredited by any of these
accreditation mills, they end up taking courses that do not meet the national or regional
requirements. It is also possible that their degrees may not be accepted by employers.
CHEA (Council for Higher Education Accreditation) recommends asking certain questions in
order to identify whether an organization is an accreditation or degree mill. The following
questions can help you identify fraudulent accreditation mills:
a.

Does the organization require money to grant accreditation status?

b.

Are there any quality standards published by the organization?

c.

Is the name of organization similar to the recognized accrediting agencies?

d.

Does the organization make claims without providing evidence?

e.

Are there only a few requirements for accreditation or graduation?

Organizations like CHEA, which regulate accrediting agencies, can help you differentiate
between the authentic accrediting organizations and the fraudulent accreditation mills.
If the students have been tricked into enrolling in a fake institute, who should they contact to
get help?
If you have mistakenly enrolled in a fake institute and need to contact the relevant
authorities to obtain help, you can contact the government agencies around the world that
deal with frauds and scams. You can also contact the non-governmental agencies that help
with frauds.
Following is a list of governmental and non-governmental agencies that you can contact in case
of an education related fraud:
1. FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation)

Local FBI office: Click here to locate your local FBI office's address and phone number.

FBI Internet Fraud Complaint Center


The internet crime center of FBI can effectively work on your complaint when you provide it
with all the relevant and accurate information. They request you for the following
information, when you file a complaint:

Your name

Your mailing address

Your telephone number

Name of the individual or business that defrauded you

Address of the individual or business that defrauded you

Telephone number of the individual or business that defrauded you

Website and email address of the individual or business that defrauded you

Specific details on how you were defrauded

Any other relevant information necessary to support your complaint

2.

State Attorney General

You can also contact your state Attorney General or local office of consumer protection,
which is also listed on pages of your telephone directory.

3. EConsumer.gov
You can also seek help from this organization, which is associated with

InternationalConsumer Protection and Enforcement Network.


Non-Governmental Agencies and Organizations that can help with Frauds:

Better Business Bureau


In order to file a complaint for fraud, you can also seek assistance from the nearest Better
Business Bureau.

National Fraud Information Center/Internet Fraud Watch


NFIC is the National Consumers League project. It helps consumers with
information, referral services, and provides assistance in filing complaints.

Call for Action


This is an international network of hotlines, which is working in collaboration with
radio and television stations. It resolves the problems of consumers through free
and confidential intervention.
CALL FOR ACTION INC
5272 RIVER ROAD SUITE 300 BETHESDA
MD 20816-1405
1-800-647-1756

Flexibility

Besides the concerns related to accreditation, flexibility is also a major aspect in choosing
your college. One of the biggest advantages of online education is the flexibility of
timings and schedule creation that it offers. You could have a variety of reasons for
wanting to attend an online college:
o

You are a single mother, who is supporting her kids and the family
o You are already in the middle of your professional life o

You want to enroll in a program that is offered in a faraway


collegeo You want to save on transportation costs

You prefer to study at your own pace which might either be


too fast for the rest of the class or too slow

So when selecting an online college, make sure you take advantage of the flexibility factor, and design
a schedule that works out best for your lifestyle and personal commitments.

Scholarships & Course Costs

Another major factor is the tuition cost. Most students look for colleges that offer
scholarships to their students, along with affordable course costs. Online colleges may
offer various types of financial help, in terms of aids, scholarships and grants. Students are
awarded financial aid, loans and grants, on the basis of need and other factors. The terms
and conditions for the student loans are similar to those offered to traditional students.

Make sure you go through the colleges loan policy in great detail, before making any
decision in this regard. You could even get in touch with the colleges financial aid office to
help clear out any confusion, if necessary.
Besides financial aid, online universities may also award scholarships. As with loans, scholarship
requirements might vary from college to college. You might be eligible for a scholarship based on
your academic performance in most circumstances. There are colleges that might be willing to
give you scholarships based on other areas of high performance as well, such as athletics, arts,
extraordinary performance in a particular subject, etc.

Check if your friends are enrolling: Another thing you should keep in mind, when enrolling
online is the people who would be enrolling in the same program with you. In ideal
circumstances, you might end up with a friend or two in the same course. This can be very
helpful, as it would help in group assignments and discussing difficult parts of the course.
However, even if your friends are not enrolling with you, it is not a cause for
concern. Instructors in online courses are typically made available for all types
of assistance needed in relevance to the course. In addition to that, teachers
assistants hold online office hours to further aid the students.

9. Which Online Program You Can Select?

The skys the limit:


The world of online education has developed tremendously over the years. From
just a few courses and even fewer subjects offered online, it has now evolved into
a fully functional mode of education. Now, there is a long list of programs you can
choose from, both specialized and general. Below are some of the options
thatwould be available to you:
o
o
o
o
o
o
o

Accounting
Business
Entrepreneurship
Finance
Marketing
Management
Human Resource Management
Business Law

o
o
o

Astronomy
Environmental Management
Health Sciences

o Natural Sciences
o

Anatomy and Physiology

Earth Science

Chemistry

Biology

Science of Nutrition

Greek Philosophy

History

Liberal Studies

o Literature o Music
o Humanities
o
o
o

o
o
o
o

Western Civilization
Mathematics
Geology
Information Systems and Computer Applications

Psychology
Economics
Sociology
Languages

Criminal Justice

o Education
The abovementioned is NOT an exhaustive list.
With so many options available, it can be hard to make a decision. That is why you are
advised to choose a program before you go looking for schools. Make a list of all the possible
options that you might be interested in and then start narrowing them down. It is alright to
end up with options that are different from each other.
For instance, you could short list humanities, criminal justice, biotechnology, Greek
philosophy and psychology. On the face of it, selecting one major out of these seems like an
impossible task. However, if you dig deeper, you can find a way to make your final
selection. The criteria for the final selection would depend heavily on your individual
requirements. Answering these few questions might help you select the right major:

What is it that you want to study?

How much are you willing to spend in terms of finance?

How much time do you have to invest?

What have you studied previously?

What subjects did you score well in?

There are, however, other factors and indicators which should have an equally
strong impact on your program choice. Asking yourself the following few questions
might further help you zero in on that one major:

What majors are in demand?

What careers are in demand?

What jobs are paying the most?

Which career fields are likely to experience growth in the coming years?

Answering these questions will require some amount of research on your part. The
internet is a good place to look for answers, especially regarding growing careers,
and popular fields, etc.

Fastest Growing Careers

For instance, here is what the US Bureau of Labor Statistics has to say about
fastest growing careers (2012-22):
Occupation

Growth Rate, 201222 (%)

2012 Median Pay

53
$83,580

Industrial-organizational psychologists
49

Personal care aides


48

$19,910
$20,820

Home health aides


Insulation workers, mechanical

47

Interpreters and translators

46

Diagnostic medical sonographers

46

Helpers-brickmasons, brickmasons,

43

$39,170

$45,430

$65,860
$28,220

stonemasons, and tile and marble


setters
Occupational therapy assistants

43

Genetic counselors

41

$53,240

$56,800

Physical therapist assistants

41

Physical therapist aides

40

Skincare specialists

40

$52,160

$23,880

$28,640

38
$90,930

Physician assistants
Segmental pavers

38
37

$33,720
$27,670

Helpers-electricians
Information security analysts

37
36

$86,170
$26,850

Occupational therapy aides

Health specialties teachers,


postsecondary

36
$81,140
36

$31,350

Medical secretaries

Physical therapists

36

With projected job growth for various occupations in front of you, you might get a
clearer picture of where the job market would be, by the time you graduate. This is
vital information that would help you select the right major. When enrolling in a
college, determine the year of your graduation. The time taken to complete a
degree varies according to degree levels. Here are the generally accepted timelines
for various degrees:

Associate Degree 2 years

Bachelors Degree4 years

Masters Degree 2 years

Doctorate degree 4-7 years

$79,860

Highest Paying Jobs

In addition to looking at the fastest growing jobs, you can also look at other
indicators, such as the highest paying jobs. This should further help you narrow
down your choice. You should see whether your school offers the program which
promises not only job growth but also a high paying salary.

Occupation

2012 Median Pay

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

Equal to or greater than $187,200

Physicians and Surgeons

Equal to or greater than $187,200

Surgeons

Equal to or greater than $187,200

Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Equal to or greater than $187,200

Internists, general

Equal to or greater than $187,200

Anesthesiologists

Equal to or greater than $187,200

Orthodontists

Equal to or greater than $187,200

Psychiatrists

$173,330

Family and General Practitioners


Prosthodontists

$172,020
$169,130

Chief Executives

168,140

Dentists, all other specialists

$154,990

Pediatricians, general

$154,650

Nurse anesthetists
Dentists, general

$148,160
$145,240

Petroleum engineers

$130,280

Architectural and engineering managers

$124,870

Air traffic controllers


Computing and Information Systems
Marketing Managers

$122,530
$120,950 Managers
$119,480

There are many such indicators you could look at to analyze the conditions of the job
market. Having a look at these elements will give you various perspectives and might
make the decision making process easier.

10. How to Select a Class Group?


Once you have chosen a major and enrolled in a particular college, the next thing you should be
concerned about is the class groups and faculty that you will have the option of selecting.

These two things matter more than what most people assume. Your class group might be
the reason why you even understand a particular subject. More often than not, students
feel more at ease discussing difficult concepts with their peers as opposed to going up to the
instructor. In addition to overall understanding of concepts, peers are also an important
aspect in group projects. The sort of group you become a part of for a group project might
not only determine your grade, but also the actual amount of learning you can extract from
the project.
Here are a few things you might want to keep in mind when looking at an online
program from this perspective:

education

Are there any student run societies you can be a part of?

Are there any online discussion boards for students, categorized according to
courses, groups, majors etc?

Does the university provide any online applications for easy accessibility to
other students and instructors?

Once you are enrolled in a course, make sure you network with other students via
different online channels in order to get the best learning experience. Whether its a
simple study group or a project group, there are a few things that might be of some
assistance.
Tips on Working in Groups During College:
A lot of instructors prefer assigning group projects to students, rather than individual
assessments. These projects are designed to teach students a multitude of essential
workplace traits such as tolerance, patience, sensitivity and collaboration. However, working
in groups can be problematic as well. For instance, you might end up being the lone hard

worker in the team, or the group might have too many strong-headed or opinionated
people. Here are a few tips you can follow to help your college group projects work more

smoothly:

Divide and Conquer

Each member in a group has different skills and interests. Try to keep the actual group
work at a minimum, and allow each group member to explore their strengths and
contribute accordingly. For an individual who is by and large, uninterested, assign him/her
a task that would have minimal impact on the final outcome of the project. Make sure the
division of duties is done with a consensus, reached after a group meeting where
everyone gets to speak their mind.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Figuring out what would matter at the end and what would just make a minor difference, is
an important aspect. If you end up getting stuck on the little details, such as the background
color in the presentation, or the font on the poster, you might end up losing sight of the
final goal: completing the project and getting a good grade.

Free rider Alert!

Dont be a hero. Its not your individual project. You dont have to do anyone's share of the
work. Make sure you strike a balance between policing your peers and taking the lion's
share of work. Each group member should have an assigned role and everyone should be on
the same page regarding the major tasks, right from the get-go.

11. Gathering resource data from eBooks

What is an e-Book?

An e-book is a text presented in a format which enables the student to read it on a


computer or another hand-held device. A lot of books that are available in hard copies
are now also being converted into e-books to allow access to a greater number of
people/ Bestselling fiction, classics and reference texts, all form a part of e-books. With
changing technology, e-books are beginning to bypass print media altogether. An
ebook does not necessarily have to be just electronic text, it could also be other extras
as well, such as audio, video or hyperlinks.

How can you Read an E-Book?

There are basically three ways in which you can read an e-book:
1) Portable E-Book Devices: These are small tablet sized computers that mimic books.
They run on battery, and can be charged just like a cell phone. They display texts which
can be downloaded from a computer.
2) PC or Mac using particular software: There are various software packages that can
be easily downloaded from the internet for this purpose. You could either use the

Adobe Acrobat reader or the Microsoft Reader. Both these software have their
respective installation and usage procedures. You can always check their websites for
further assistance.
3) Hand-held Computers and Personal Digital Assistants (PDA's): The two software
mentioned above are also available for PDA's.

What are the advantages of e-Books?

Speed: As long as the book you want is available, you can download and use it
immediately.

Portability: A large number of books can be carried in a small device that can be
neatly tucked into your purse or briefcase.

Print as you please: You no longer need to skim through markets to get a print copy,
you can print your own.

Interactive: E-books are interactive in nature. They allow student to make


notes, highlight, underline, bookmark, search and gain extra informati on via
hyperlinks.

Add-ons: Many e-books give you the opportunity to search particular words or phrases
on the internet.

Personalization: The back-lighting and font size can be adjusted as required.

Environmentally friendly: Paper free books, save trees and impact the

environment positively.

What are the Disadvantages of e-Books?

Limited Resources: As of now, there are a very limited number of books


available in the online format. It would take a long time before most of
the existing resources are made available via online channels.

Format Inconsistencies: E-books are available in a variety of different


formats. For instance, some e-books are not available in
Macfriendly format.

Eye-sight Issues: Prolonged exposure to a computer screen or a tablet might


cause problems with your eyesight.

What does an e-book typically cost?


An e-book mostly costs less than paperbacks. Add to this, the fact that there are no
delivery charges involved, the overall cost of purchasing an e-book is reduced. Plans
to bring down this cost further are under consideration.

What is the future of e-books?


In recent years, the e-book industry has seen considerable growth, owing mainly
to the technological advancements. However, minor glitches in e-book
technology have hampered the industry's growth as a whole.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about eBooks:

1- Once I purchase an e-book, will it be available to me forever?


Yes. Once you have paid the designated price for an e-book, it will be available to
you, unless you delete it. The download link might be made available for a
specified amount of time, like 30 days or so. Therefore, you are advised to
download it as soon as you purchase it.
2- Can I share my e-book with colleagues?
No. A shareable e-book would infringe upon copyrights. A book in print form is
one copy. You can lend it to someone, but it remains one copy. To share an ebook would mean to create multiple copies, which is against copyright laws.
3- Do I need an internet connection to view or open my e-book?
You will need an internet connection when downloading the e-book. Once it is
downloaded and saved, you do not need an internet connection to access the
book over and over again.

12 . Online Semesters and Exam Tips


An online semester may last the same amount of time as a traditional college semester. The
timeline would be dependent on whether the college offers a quarter system or semester system.
Timelines will also vary for summer semesters and normal semesters.

Course Load for an Online Student

The number of courses an online student takes during a semester would be dependent on a
variety of factors. This would include your time availability and your school's course load
policies. To be classified as a full time undergraduate student, most colleges (whether online
or not) would require you to take at least 12 credits, which could equal to three or four
courses. If, however, you are a half time student, you would be taking between six and 12
credits. For graduate students, to be considered full time, they need to take at least 9 credits
per semester.
Summer Semester: Summer semesters are shorter and more condensed in nature,
ascompared to spring or fall semesters. Most colleges place a lower cap on the number of
courses students can take in a summer semester. A full time summer semester would typically
mean two or three courses, with three to four being the maximum allowed.

How are Exams Conducted for Online Classes?

Online classes culminate with online exams in most cases. There are, however, some
universities who offer courses and lectures online, but expect students to physically appear
at an examination hall to give their exams at the end of the term.
A typical online exam would be relatively different from a traditional on campus exam in
several ways. Online students would take the tests on their own computers in locations of
their own choosing. This format can result in some problems for professors who are
administering these tests.
Invigilation: Due to the nature of distance learning, professors have no way of
invigilatingexams. Some quizzes or assignments are uploaded with a time limit for every
question, but that is typically the maximum control instructors can practice on students
appearing for exams. For this reason, most online exams and tests are open-book and opennotes.
Plagiarism: Another concern with this type of assessment is students copying
otherstudents' work. To cater to this problem, tests are typically structured in a way to
make it very difficult for students to copy other students answers. For instance, the
instructor may ask shortanswer questions that not only require in-depth knowledge, but an
overall comprehension of the topic as well.

Technological Issues: In rare instances, students might not be able to access the test filedue
to a technological issue or a software malfunction. For monitored tests, they might even fall
victim to a computer crash right in the middle of a test or poor internet connectivity might
cause them to lose their entire progress in a quiz. In cases such as these, students are
advised to immediately inform the instructor or the teachers assistant, to get an extension.
The Process for Taking an Online Exam
When appearing for a computer based exam, it is very important to know your basics well.
Giving an online exam does not require a high level of expertise, but it does require a
fundamental understanding of how computer systems operate. Here is a step by step
break down of how you should go about taking an online examination:

Double click on the icon for the exam

A window will open that asks for your username/password. This might be your
college student ID and password. Enter this data and proceed

There might be a selection of folders out of which you are to choose one file.
These might be a series of components you have to attempt, in a particular order
and in a certain amount of time.

The next page might take you to the instructions for your exam. Read these very
carefully. They will tell you regarding the nature of the exam, number of questions,
types of questions, time allowed and any optional questions. At the bottom or the
top of the page, there would be a Start Exam button. Click on this button when
you are done reading the instructions.

The next page that opens up in front of you would take you through your exam.
You will have the questions listed in front of you. There can be many formats
which instructors might follow here but in most cases, there will be multiple choice
questions, followed by short questions (with space provided beneath each
question), followed by long, structured essay questions with the relevant space
provided as well. Unlike a traditional exam setup, there will not be a question
paper followed by a separate answer sheet.

The time would appear on either corner of the page, to make sure you know
exactly how much time you have left.

Some exams might not have the option of turning back and doing the unattempted
questions again. This would be clearly mentioned in the instructions, make sure
you read them carefully and plan your first attempt of the exam accordingly.

Once you have finished the exam, move on to last page and look for the Finish
button, and end your exam.

Part Three: Popular Degrees


When talking about online degrees, one of the most important factors is the degree
choice. There are some people who are strongly sure of what they want. They know
whether they want to be a businessman, a doctor or a teacher. You might be among
these people.
Or you might be a part of that population which looks around for some guidance when it
comes to deciding college majors. If this decision is giving you a tough time, have a look at
the popular degrees and see if any of these choices strike you as suitable for yourself.
According to the enrollment data provided by the National Center for EducationStatistics for
the years 2000-2012, the 10 most popular degrees in the United States are:

1- Business
Total Enrollment: 3,872,859
Even though recent trends in the world of business education have shown a slight
decrease in growth of popularity, the degree continues to be one of the most sought
after choices for higher education studies. This could be potentially explained by the
fact that the workload for a business degree is typically less intensive than those for
other degrees. In addition to that, people with business degrees can go into a variety of
fields after they complete their education. They might find employment in accounting,
human resource, finance, marketing or sales.
2- Social Sciences and History
Total Enrollment: 1,901,413
The second most popular degree in terms of enrollment is social sciences and history.
In the 12 years from 2000 to 2012, the overall trend was positive, with a consistent
increase. Students have shown a relatively high interest in enrolling for this degree as
well. Even though the overall trend has shown growth in this field, there are noted
fluctuations in several years. This could be due to the fact that there is a general
misconception among students and parents that people majoring in any field other
than science, math or business is wasting their time, since this degree does not have
many job prospects. However, people who go for this degree, typically end up
developing many integral skills, such as speaking clearly, thinking critically and
analyzing tough problems with logic and reasoning. Skills such as these are utilized in
many fields in the job market, for instance, in sales, marketing, hospitality and public
relations.
3- Education
Total Enrollment: 1,257,538
After social sciences and history, the next most popular major is Education. Even though
this major took the third spot on this list, the number of enrollments has grown by a very
small percentage over the 12 years in question. Even the student interest levels have shown
great fluctuations with this major.

The reason why the Education major continues to be popular in terms of enrollments, in
spite of the above factors, is the funding and government mandates. Schools are required
to hire specially trained and qualified teachers now.
4 - Health Professions and Related Programs
Total Enrollment: 1,236,953
Fourth on the list for the most popular majors is health professions and related programs.
Even though these programs are behind the top three in terms of absolute enrollments, it
is important to note the tremendous growth (115%) that this field has seen in the 12
years from 2000 to 2012. Student interest levels in enrolling in this program have also
shown a noted increase.
The possible reasons for this exceptional growth could be the common belief that
majoring in any science can land you the ideal job. In addition to that, the health care
industry is experiencing an overall upward trend due to the increasing average lifespan,
advancement of medicine technology, increasing population figures and the aging baby
boomer population. Besides that, the health care industry also offers various career
paths, such as health care administration, health care marketing, fundraising, financing or
social awareness generation.
5- Psychology
Total Enrollment: 1,068,908
Following health care sciences, next in line is a bachelor's degree in psychology. In the
twelve years from 2000 to 2012, this major saw a staggering increase in absolute
enrollments of nearly 50%. Even the student interest levels in this major have experienced
a steady and consistent increase over time.
Even though the number of enrollments in this major speak of a positive trend, it is interesting
to note that psychology majors have not had a lot of luck in the job market.

This could be due the fact that being a psychologist requires a masters degree at least.
And a lot of colleges don't make a bachelor's in psychology a prerequisite for admission into a
masters program in this field. Other reasons could be that people with this degree usually
end up working in a variety of other fields, instead of just sticking to psychology.
6- Visual and Performing Arts
Total Enrollment: 984,420
In the 12 years from 2000 to 2012, this major saw a percentage increase of nearly 57%, an
increase higher than that for even the top three majors. The interest levels of students in
enrolling in this major have somewhat remained the same, depicting how this major has
remained in favor for a certain group of students.
The people who go for majors in this area have a wide array of career paths available to them.
They could go into advertising, direction, painting, jewelery designing, film making and film
critics and so on. Most people who go for a specialization in this major, are very passionate
about it, and are at some level, looking to make it big.

7 - Biological& Biomedical Sciences


Total Enrollment: 893,063
At number seven is biological and biomedical sciences, with a huge and impressive
increase of 58% in the years from 2000 to 2012. The number of enrollments has seen a
consistent increase over the said period of time, and student interest levels have also
remained somewhat steady.
The major reason behind this surge in the medicine sciences industry could be the
substantial increase in its workforce over the past few decades. The traditional clinical and
laboratory scienceshave been taken up a notch with the advent of new technicaland
scientific research. In addition to that, there has been certain urgency in developing the
field of biology, all over the world, due to the eminent threat of bio-terrorism and new
and emerging infectious diseases.
8- Communication, Journalism and Related Programs
Total Enrollment: 883,821
At number eight on the list for most popular majors at the bachelor's levels are
communications, journalism and related programs. Even though the absolute
enrollments in this major have risen over the years, the student interest level in this
field has seen a downfall.
Whether this trend will continue on in the years to come, is another matter, but let's try to
understand why it has fallen in the recent times. One potential reason could be the
negative publicity of layoffs in this field, forcing students to question the future of
journalism. Communications programs have been growing consistently, while journalism
and mass communication have been stagnant in their growth. Journalism, in its true self,
has not gone away, but it has evolved. With so many complexities developing within this
field, this science has gone above and beyond the traditional newspapers and print media.
9- Engineering
Total Enrollment: 809,898
The ninth most popular major in terms of enrollment is engineering, with a percentage
increase in enrollments of 40% from the years between 2000 and 2012. However, it is
interesting to note that the share of total enrollments in all majors, held by this major has
pretty much remained the same.
One of the major reasons for the popularity of this major is the promotion of engineering
and related subjects at the school level. Schools are known for focusing more on promoting
subjects relating to engineering, as opposed to any other subject. In addition to that,
engineering majors have the opportunity of working in some of the most lucrative fields in
the market. They can find work as software engineers, environmental engineers, civil
engineers or petroleum engineers, among other fields. All of these types of engineers have
very high median salaries. But keep in mind that these jobs typically require qualifications
higher than a bachelor's degree.

10- English Language & Literature/Letters


Total Enrollment: 645,466
The tenth most popular major in this list is English language and literature/letters.
Even though the absolute enrollments in this major are high enough to land it a place
in the top ten most popular majors, it is interesting to note that the student interest
level in this major has consistently and slowly declined over the twelve years from
2000 to 2012.
Potential reasons for this decline could be the decreasing glory of literature as a
field of study. There is a possibility that this major was never universal in nature.
The literature of United States, for instance, might not be relevant for people from
across the globe. Geography and demography might be playing a more important
role here than a lot of people realize.
Another potential cause for the downfall of this major could be the money-making
power of the degree. On top of that, there are all sorts of pressure on the
departments to try and attract resources, rather than just using them up. But even
with these issues, the major continues to be a somewhat popular choice among
students, especially those who have a passion for literature.

Part Four: FAQ SECTION


What is online learning?
Online learningis an educational experience delivered through the use of internet
andcomputers. Coursework is carried out through discussions, group work, external
resources, social platforms, online assignments and exams.
Is online learning right for me?
Online classes are typically very different than the traditional classroom setting,
mainly in terms of how the material is presented. The hard work and dedication
aspect remains the same though. These are required in both formats. In addition to
that, you should have time management skills, self-discipline, motivation and good
communication skills.
Keep in mind that a personal computer is the primary tool in distance learning, so
you must be comfortable with the basic usage of one.
How much does online education usually cost?
Tuition cost for online education varies from institute to institute. On average, the
cost of a college degree attained via online channels would cost you less than an on
campus degree. The logic behind this is simple: you can cut back on transportation
cost and since nearly everything is online, you might not even need to purchase a lot
of study materials and books. From the perspective of the colleges as well, the cost is
relatively

lowered since the administration does not have to provide campus facilities to
these students.
Can I get financial aid?
Some online colleges offer financial aid programs to deserving students, while
others might give scholarships based on good performance in academics.
How can I find accredited online universities?
To check if an online program is offered by an accredited institute or not, you might
have to do a bit of extra research. Have a look at the Database of Accredited
Postsecondary Institutions and Programs, available online at the US Department of
Education official website. This is an updated list of colleges that meet certain
quality standards, and is provided as a public service, without warranty of any kind.
Keep in mind though that the US Department of Education itself encourages you to
consult additional sources when looking for such credentials.
How can I find the right online degree?
That is a decision which will depend on you for the most part. You need to know
exactly what you want, and how much you are willing to invest in the degree. If you
have no idea what degree you want, then have a look at what is trending in the market
at the time and what degree is offering the best returns.
How hard is it to earn a college degree online?
Earning a degree online can be a challenging idea but it doesn't have to be any
harder than a traditional on-campus degree. All you need to do is make sure that
you manage your time well, and maintain a strict self disciplined routine.
How long are online degrees typically?
The length of an online program would depend on the degree that you are
planning to go for. In most cases, an associate degree would take two years, a
bachelor's degree would take four years and so on. The length of the program
might vary according to your schedule in some cases only.
Is it possible to get advanced degrees through online colleges?
Yes, it is. There are many universities across the United States that offer masters
and PhD programs in online formats. Some universities even offer higher degrees in
hybrid format to allow a complete package.
What are the basics of an online PhD degree?
The basic things you need to know about a PhD program online include
specialization courses, residency requirements and a dissertation. Make sure you
are aware of these three requirements when applying for an online PhD program.
What is a virtual
university?

A virtual university is an Elearning institution that utilizes the internet to deliver


classes and seminars. Students can earn a degree or a certification if they have a
computer system that meets the technological requirements of that specific major.
What kinds of degrees are available in online programs?
Today, more subjects than ever are being offered online, owing mainly to the
widespread interest in online education and the easier availability of technology.