Ubiquitous Education

The internet has really broken down barriers. Vast geographic distance is no longer seen as a big hindrance for a lot of things to be done. The wonders of the internet offer a lot of accessible and time-saving ways to close deals, place an order, transfer money, and purchase products and services. E-bay and Amazon have revolutionized shopping for people all over the world. Napster and Limewire led the way for cross-continental file sharing. Now, a new wave of knowledge flow is added on the list– online education.

Online education is basically acquiring education from the existing colleges and universities inside or outside the country through the internet. Degree programs offered through online education are called online degrees, which are basically the same with degree programs universities and colleges offer in their respective campuses, only they are made accessible through the internet for people who cannot attend regular schooling. This groundbreaking mode of acquiring an education has broken down the walls and limits of universities and colleges, and have stretched education accessibility even to those who are in the most remote areas.

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Online education stemmed from the concept of distance learning. The main concern that distance learning tried to address was the incapability of adult learners, mostly professionals and in need of higher degrees, to attend regular school on a day schedule (or even night or weekend schedules) because of their works, families, and other commitments. This trend then further evolved and nowadays, even bachelor degrees, diplomas or certificates, and training programs are available. Recognizing the increasingly stiffer competition in the labor market and its direct correlation to the need for college education (vis-a-vis the constraints in getting one), universities and colleges in America pioneered the online education. Soon enough, learning institutions in Europe and other parts of the world followed.

Choices in having a college course online is not limited on certain courses; neither are the Masteral or Doctorate degrees available online. In the US alone, about a thousand of universities and colleges have made their degree programs available for online education. The courses being offered covers a very extensive array of fields, interests, and specializations. For the bachelors level, a lot of arts or science courses are offered. Most commonly taken up are courses in Accounting, Marketing and Sales, Advertising, and Business and Commerce. A computer course specializing in web development and systems management is among the most availed online course. Others are real estate course, language course, and English course (mostly enrolled are Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans). Other popular choices are associate degrees in arts and humanities, telecommunications, human resources, hospitality management, education, veterinary, etc. Vocational and diploma courses such as clothing design and interior design are also available. For the Masteral level, most students enroll in business and trade related degrees. A lot is also in technology management, information systems, aviation science, international relations, industrial and manufacturing, etc. Other universities even offer a free online course on areas like foreign language and stenography.

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In online education, instructors of universities and colleges create websites where they post the course outline, course requirements, lectures, assignments, and exams. The connection between a student and his/her teacher or professor is made possible through real time sharing like email or internet relay chat. Web cameras are also being used by some professors in delivering on time or pre-recorded video instructions and lectures. Message boards are also used for posting announcements. Since students are basically studying in the internet, they are allowed to use web sources for most of their assignments.

Albeit a celebrated innovation, a number of issues and concern surround online education. For those planning to get an online degree, make sure that the institution offering an online course is duly accredited by the state. Accreditation is a formal recognition that a certain institution and the programs it offers meet the standard of quality education prescribed by the government. In the US, accreditation from the Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation is a legal requirement. In Canada, the government regulates all schools and programs offered. Other concerns like cost, return of investments, and competence of offered online courses must also be given utmost scrutiny and attention.

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