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Author Topic: Higher Education: Non-Traditional Learning verses Traditional Learning, Biases?  (Read 1903 times)

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Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

I've been looking a great deal at schools several accredited programs with distance learning and other unaccredited with distance learning and seems to me there is a functional biase in the United States for accrediting schools that are more virtual in nature. Let me explain what I mean.

If you have a large brick and mortar college with all the labs, libraires and the like it very likely will get accredited and pass that to any distance learning options by default.

If you have a school that is strictly distance learning and even if the curriculum is rigorous and completely matches a normal schools bachelors in the United States its not going to ever get accredited because the standards are out of touch with the program offered. Example they don't need a physical research library or labs or other things. So they can't be accredited.

But with on-line learning becoming a major force is it time for the government to recognize that and offer accreditation to such schools. This would include foreign ones I found several good schools for my needs that aren't accredited in the United States and have fairly strong requirements to graduate. Now I'm not talking a professional degree here like Engineering or Medicine of course there has to be standards but what about a degree in Humanities or English or Business (more applied) clearly those with the right courses or guided study could be suitable for an average person.

I just think education is more than a school I guess for example it makes you a better person, can broaden your perspectives and give you a theoretical foundation for a professional career in reasonable cases. And with modern technology and all going TO a college may no longer be necessary when you can ATTEND a school anywhere in the world.

Just want to talk about this its an interesting topic.

Offline Zakharra

 Part of the reason  online schools are hard to accredit is that there are many diploma mills and other schools that put out pure crap. The methods and training they teach are far below the accepted level for a graduating student. It's also harder to verify the school and the teachers in that they actually know what they are teaching and are certified to do so. Unless the online school is part of a more normal school, then it gets a bit easier.

 Basically, it's trust. The online ones are not trusted.

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I haven't looked into it too closely...  But it seems to me that there are vested interests associated with erecting physical facilities.  Physical facilities are building projects -- literally, of course.  A lot of politics tend to surround such things, and they draw attention and recognition whether or not it's warranted.  (It's sadly true in foreign policy terms too: John Perkins' book, _Confessions of an Economic Hit Man_)

None of which is to deny that there are certain online programs that are hardly worthy of the name.  However, I think it should be possible to verify the resources and certificates of people who run them if people were interested in doing so.  There's also a question of what people are going to do with/make of the certificates _after_ someone gets them.  We have tons of lawyers and doctorates in the US, but only so much demand for them.

In Hawaii, where I'm in the state university, several lower-level courses in my department are often completed through distance courses run by community colleges (so both a less prestigious school, and an online format are accepted by the state institution -- if only to fill basic requirements).  Even physical anthropology (with a single lab where everyone gets together face to face).  Some of these courses are probably not as demanding as classroom courses, but I imagine someone could make them more so. 

You also have various learning styles.  Some people are much better at setting an independent pace, take to the material better in print than verbal interaction, and some instructors may be more comfortable or aware with the technologies than others.  Personally, I am more used to classroom discussion for humanities and suspect that even a video-conference is a somewhat different form of interaction.  However, some people may prefer the video feed (especially if they get a recording?)...


Offline Elvi

I actually think that it's not only the 'colleges' that are not trusted on line, but also the 'student'.

Ok, so I have 'better' qualifications than Strangely, on paper I have a degree with honours and a string of 'O'/'A'/'CSE' results as long as my arm.

Strangely is more practical, he has vocational qualifications equally as long as mine ranging from motor cycle courrier to Game keeping, but he is not good as accademic work.

Let's give this as an instance.
Strangely see's a carreer move and he is quite capable of doing that job, but hasn't got the right bits of paper that would qualify him for that work. He can get them, but it would be one hell of a long haul for him to be able to do that, his mind just doesn't work that way.
So Elvi says, "I'll do them for you."
She sits at the PC, registers as 'Strangely', completes the course, does the exam online and passes with ease.

Basically, online education, in that sort of form, is too open for abuse. 
Online education as an ehancement, a learning aid and a method of study is fantastic.

I think we have the right system here.
Years before a PC was readily available, the government set up the "Open University", a home study Unniversity, for those who wished to further their education, but were not, for whatever reason, able to go 'to school'.
Then you got your study notes through the post, now you can do it online.
However, you MUST attend a summer school, which allows not only you to have some social contact with others like yourself, but allows your tutors to actually assess you and your work face to face and if exams are needed for you to qualify on the course, then you have to physically sit those exams.

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I don't even think it's a serious issue.  I graduate this past December with a graduate degree, and while looking for work, every time (every single time, and there were a lot of times I did this) I submitted a resume, there was a disclaimer that 'graduates of trade schools (such as ITTP and ECPI) and online-degree programs need-not apply.

So, I think in this country, the bias is there and will be. I have a good friend who got his MBA from Phoenix University. He's been turned down for every jop he's tried to apply for since getting the degree, and has been told to his face that the main reason he isn't getting hired, by hiring recruiters, is his MBA came from an online school.

I just don't think people take it seriously. The biggest benefit I got from my experience was the networking, and that helped me land the job I have now.

Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

Well I noticed several good programs are Nationally Accredited by a federally recognized agency so I'm sure they are fine. One offers a degree good towards teaching with the teaching practice component done through local schools and its otherwise all on-line or distance learning. Another offers a degree in the Humanities through the Great Books method and has a rigorous basic curriculum also accredited. So there seems to be acceptance by the government that a quality program can work.

But then there are the other programs. The University of London offers a bachelors in many fields strictly by intensive examination after years of self-study or guided tutoring. And they have been doing that for over 100 years.

A program in India really appeals to me they use the contract method for teaching the first half of the credits around 60 comes from a series of examinations and guided self-study, some actual on-line classes in the Great Books them to get a grounding in basic education. All the faculty on the tutoring panel hold at least Masters degrees from major Indian universities and colleges or studies abroad. Then the second half of the program is tailored tutoring by contract in six areas of inquiry three must be in a related field and the others can form electives. This is guided by a proctor with a Doctorate again verified to come from a major university or college and is based on a theme or idea or an integrated area of study. Graduates have gone to medical school, law school and others including Harvard and major universities. But they have no accreditation due to the nation although they are quite reputable. Note they do not teach medicine and the like but students in India can take science lab based parts of the program same with engineering one was proctored by a chemical company in Chemistry under a PhD. research chemist. Hardly a bad way to lean. But foreign students are more limited like I could study Philosophy easily or Management with a Law Focus if I can get my company to work with the proctors.

As for me it will depend if I want to go to college to learn a profession or enhance my career OR if its for personal growth.

Begs the question should there be one INTERNATIONAL agency to accredit all schools, seems to me the quality of programs clearly varies. But if I took the Indian college it would offer a very in-depth education for personal enrichment if nothing else.

Also its important how you want to use the degree- for example if its just for personal growth and the school is respectable what is wrong with getting such a degree. I have a friend that did that and although doesn't use it under colleges attended will note it under other areas of study and it not accredited but a degree in History from the University of London and it can't hurt. We are not talking a diploma mill here but THE University of London.

Dr. Bear an expert in distance learning for years who sits as a witness in going after diploma mills proposed a system like this. A school would volunteer the be rates and then it would be reviewed the information going to 100 experts like business people, academics and others and they would rate it between 1-100 and it acceptability of of the degree. The scores would be averaged together and give a rating of 1-100 on its value. Example of that might be the Indian school it might get a 90/100 meaning 90% of the panel see the school of being very acceptable (just as an example). I brought up why not split that between using the degree as a professional credential and for personal enrichment. Clearly the second would have a different rating after all over the first and could be higher. Like earning a degree in History because you WANT to over plans to use it to teach for example.

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I have nothing against where anyone wants to get a degree for 'personal betterment or enlightenment' but I don't know anyone who hasn't based their choice of where to get a degree based on that. Everyone I know, myself included, has gone to college to get a degree, or a second degree, for the express purpose of bettering their economic prospects.

Believe me, my undergraduate degree is in History. I have yet to use it for anything related to history at all. You can't teach in this state without a Master's Degree or a Graduate Certificate in Education, so having the degree didn't allow me to use it for the one thing I would have. I decided to go back to school five years ago to get a degree to get into the field that I wanted to, and I looked very hard and very carefully at what to do. Distance learning, from my own personal experiences, does not hold water when compared to brick-and-mortar established universities and colleges. There is a stigma attached to them, as well as the technical colleges.

Is it fair? Perhaps not, but it is there. If you are only getting a degree to get a degree, that's different. However, if you ever want to fall back on that degree or to try to use it on a resume, I recommend going to a traditional college.

Offline Elvi

The University of London offers a bachelors in many fields strictly by intensive examination after years of self-study or guided tutoring. And they have been doing that for over 100 years.

Well they certainly haven't been doing it online for that length of time. *grins*

Most courses in this country, when talking about the accademics, involves a great deal of study, some only require students to actually attend lectures maybe two or three times a week, the remainder of the time is spent on research and book reading.

However, the key is that it is NOT an online degree, you learn online and by other means but you still have to sit the exams in person. 

Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

I have nothing against where anyone wants to get a degree for 'personal betterment or enlightenment' but I don't know anyone who hasn't based their choice of where to get a degree based on that. Everyone I know, myself included, has gone to college to get a degree, or a second degree, for the express purpose of bettering their economic prospects.

Believe me, my undergraduate degree is in History. I have yet to use it for anything related to history at all. You can't teach in this state without a Master's Degree or a Graduate Certificate in Education, so having the degree didn't allow me to use it for the one thing I would have. I decided to go back to school five years ago to get a degree to get into the field that I wanted to, and I looked very hard and very carefully at what to do. Distance learning, from my own personal experiences, does not hold water when compared to brick-and-mortar established universities and colleges. There is a stigma attached to them, as well as the technical colleges.

Is it fair? Perhaps not, but it is there. If you are only getting a degree to get a degree, that's different. However, if you ever want to fall back on that degree or to try to use it on a resume, I recommend going to a traditional college.

Well I started my search for a school that is accredited by either the Accrediting Council for Independant Colleges and Universities OR the Distance Education and Training Council both Nationally recognized in the United States so that would take care of some issues.

But I will likely get some credits locally in a physical college and work that into a distance program, one option I'm serious about is a degree in Social Science Education I can get that through distance learning and do the internship components in the local county and I can get my associates locally I already CLEP tested out of 18 credits (have to complete some written projects though) but it cost me much less than taking the classes.

So that plus advanced college credit in mathematics courses I've gotten almost a year out of the way of basic courses. So I figure I can take the rest locally to get my associates degree if I keep the course content liberal arts oriented. Its a start.  ;)

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Well I started my search for a school that is accredited by either the Accrediting Council for Independant Colleges and Universities OR the Distance Education and Training Council both Nationally recognized in the United States so that would take care of some issues.

But I will likely get some credits locally in a physical college and work that into a distance program, one option I'm serious about is a degree in Social Science Education I can get that through distance learning and do the internship components in the local county and I can get my associates locally I already CLEP tested out of 18 credits (have to complete some written projects though) but it cost me much less than taking the classes.

So that plus advanced college credit in mathematics courses I've gotten almost a year out of the way of basic courses. So I figure I can take the rest locally to get my associates degree if I keep the course content liberal arts oriented. Its a start.  ;)

Ruby, since you're a fellow Floridian, you should look into the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship.  This was a scholarship fund created by money from the Florida Lottery.  When I graduated in 1998, there was an issue where that money was being mishandled, so they dropped the requirements for it big-time (in order to get the money into students' pockets).  I don't know what the state of the scholarship is now, but just about everyone I graduated with took a free ride to one of the Florida schools, the majority going to the University of Florida, while I stayed local and went to Florida International.

Also, Florida is in huge demand for teachers.  My wife is currently doing a program with Western Governors University to become an accredited gradeschool teacher.  They have programs with local schools for student-teaching, and she takes her tests at the Miami-Dade College campus.  I've also looked into the requirements for teaching in FL, and they're pretty slim...that's a very viable career option right now.

I can't really comment on the stigma vs. virtual schools, but I know personally, I decided not to pursue a graduate degree until I arrived back in Miami, and was able to attend Florida International again.  When I was in Minnesota, the only option for me was distance learning, considering where I was located there, and I decided against it.  But, then again, I thought it was very good for my wife to be able to work towards a degree during her free time.

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I've had first hand experience with the stigma, as I've mentioned.

However my field is IT/IS, so it might be mainly related to business/IT fields. Other fields may not have as much of a stigma attached to them.

I know my friend with the MBA from Phoenix University Online was basically told by two recruiters that he really should have gone to a traditional school for that, because it's a worthless piece of paper.

Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

Well in my case I have to work full time, help take care of my sick mother and find time in a very odd schedule for classes in my case going to a physical college locally for my whole degree is not going to happen. I'd love to but I must tend to my obligations. I was careful to pick an accredited school and am going to get a traditional associates degree by any means necessary.  >:( grrrrrrrr....

lol

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Let's give this as an instance.
Strangely see's a carreer move and he is quite capable of doing that job, but hasn't got the right bits of paper that would qualify him for that work. He can get them, but it would be one hell of a long haul for him to be able to do that, his mind just doesn't work that way.
So Elvi says, "I'll do them for you."
She sits at the PC, registers as 'Strangely', completes the course, does the exam online and passes with ease.


Sure that's possible, but it probably won't get one through a job interview where the specific knowledge matters.  The certificates are supposed to be worth more than a first impression upon some distant bureaucrat sifting the forms.  You could say, but the grade is supposed to mean I can do so much more than learn this field...  But if you're concerned about degrees as a symbol for effort or abstract potential rather than acquired knowledge, I think you'll need more complex ways of measuring that than one piece of paper. 

(Without even going to distance: The US admissions system is skeptical of numerically similar grades from even lower-ranked "known" schools.  Whether or not much of that is actually fair.)

It's also possible that one follows the course or does a lot of independent reading, really gets the stuff, and never gets an interview because the distance certificate is rejected out of hand.  I've had some pretty weak lectures delivered by people with degrees from big-name places, too...  So I'd rather have more interviews and less name value.  Some of the people without actual capabilities probably cannot afford to, or will not dare to try the interviews anyway.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2006, 03:20:04 AM by kylie »

Offline robitusinz

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I've had first hand experience with the stigma, as I've mentioned.

However my field is IT/IS, so it might be mainly related to business/IT fields. Other fields may not have as much of a stigma attached to them.

I know my friend with the MBA from Phoenix University Online was basically told by two recruiters that he really should have gone to a traditional school for that, because it's a worthless piece of paper.

NA, I'm in the IT field as well.  I have a B of Sci. in Comp. Sci from FIU.  When I hired on, I befriended the head of HR some and we chatted about the qualifications he was looking for for my position.  He mentioned how many people came with lists upon lists of certificates and other forms of recognition and how he looks at those very skeptically.  Given our field, there are too many outlets for people to get credentials from one diploma-mill or another, and there are way too many home-grown IT professionals who are too random to rely upon hiring.  For my specific position, they needed someone with solid, reliable skills, and they were willing to train.  So, they were interested in someone with a degree from a known university, as opposed to someone they'd be taking a gamble on.

I've worked with IT guys who didn't have the university credentials, as well as guys who did, and there's a noticeable difference between the two.  From personal experience, the guys with the college background were more adaptable, better able to flex into different positions and essentially fill in gaps where the team has been weak.  The guys with the certifications, though, were phenomenal at their given tasks, but were very rigid.  While working with IBM, I was working with a myriad of technologies...virtual server firmware, AIX, OS/400, Java, C++, Perl, ASP, Websphere...and what I described above was very very visible.  A lot of our contract vendors were certificate-collectors, and they came in to fulfill very specific roles.  All of the actual IBM employees were college grads who worked on broader projects and tasks.  For example, I worked on developing a new testing harness that worked to create a topography of our latest OS, and that slammed on HTTP, and various virtualization functions.  The vendors I worked with (essentially under me, as I was project lead) had more specific areas of expertise:  one was an HTTP guru, the other was a microcode genius.  It was very difficult to integrate both of their work because neither knew about what the other guy was doing.

Essentially, if I were an IT Director, and I had to fill roles, I'd try to have as many college grads as possible, with certification guys filling in the specialized roles.  However, that should be taken with a grain of salt, as IT is a different animal from most other fields.

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One thing about the Graduate Program at the University of Richmond, where I got my IT Degree, is that the program not only covers the spectrum for IT fields and progresses through each function, but it is also very heavy on the business side of IT, and how IT goes hand-in-hand with a business and it's applications. I think that is why more of the degreed type individuals get hired for what I do.

I do agree with you though. I have a friend who got just a few certifications, and he's very specialized. Very good at his specialties, but a fish out of water as far as other things go.

Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

Well there seem to be differences in outlook. I have a friend with a law degree from the University of London since its an English system of Law studied and could sit for the Bar with it (she passed the first time with flying colors)- she does contract and business law. For her it never hurt although they did apprentice her in the firm under a trial lawyer for a year. Actually their distance degrees generally do very well but its THE University of London with a track record of having a tough time on students. But it would depend I suppose on the degree studied for but very often a graduate with a humanities or social sciences degree can get into a graduate program easily enough and often does very well.

I on the other hand plan to earn my associates localy take some teaching classes at higher level locally and do the rest thorugh an accredited distance program. This way I have the live class time and only fill in where I have to with distance classes. But it will offer me the best overall education in my field and the state will accept it and so would would all the others- as long as its accredited and I have half the credits from a brick and mortar school that is accredited as well.

The trick I have to plan for is make sure I can show that I had ample real life classes and plenty of student teacher time but with the shortage in my state I see that the odds of me getting a job when done is excellent. On the plus side if I go locally I will work intially with the school district so can get in on the ground floor.


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AFAIK you don't need a law degree to sit for the bar. I could be wrong, but I think anyone who can pay the fees, etc. can take the test.


Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

No all the states require a law degree or in some cases legal training with an apprenticeship but ah American Bar Association requires a degree from an ABA approved American law school, in California a state-approved law school but does not have to be a ABA approved school, a degree from a English Law (or if Louisiana an English or French based law) from a foreign law school or an apprenticeship and thisl requires some formal legal education to qualify. The University of London degree is the only foreign law school that is a distance learning program that counts.

Although there is a possible loophole if you had an unapproved by the ABA law degree and went to a ABA approved school for a Masters or Doctor of Law being a more advanced degree you might be able to sit for the bar on that credential.

But try to pass a University of London many days of testing in a degree area its not at all easy that's the point. But most of the time its the only such credential that is fully respected in academic circles but am not sure of business circles- since its a prestigious foreign school and the diploma states its not a non-traditional program approach it should be good I would think.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2006, 03:01:45 PM by RubySlippers »

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Well there seem to be differences in outlook. I have a friend with a law degree from the University of London since its an English system of Law studied and could sit for the Bar with it (she passed the first time with flying colors)- she does contract and business law. For her it never hurt although they did apprentice her in the firm under a trial lawyer for a year. Actually their distance degrees generally do very well but its THE University of London with a track record of having a tough time on students. But it would depend I suppose on the degree studied for but very often a graduate with a humanities or social sciences degree can get into a graduate program easily enough and often does very well.

I on the other hand plan to earn my associates localy take some teaching classes at higher level locally and do the rest thorugh an accredited distance program. This way I have the live class time and only fill in where I have to with distance classes. But it will offer me the best overall education in my field and the state will accept it and so would would all the others- as long as its accredited and I have half the credits from a brick and mortar school that is accredited as well.

The trick I have to plan for is make sure I can show that I had ample real life classes and plenty of student teacher time but with the shortage in my state I see that the odds of me getting a job when done is excellent. On the plus side if I go locally I will work intially with the school district so can get in on the ground floor.



Ruby, are you going to be degree-seeking, or just fulfilling classes for the FL school board?  If you're going to go after a degree, you should see if you can get it from whatever local school you're going to, as opposed to whatever distance school you're using.  Basically, be a real student at a "real" college, and just use the distance school to supplement, if it's allowed by your program.

I'm thinking that a lot of schools would have distance learning available for a few non-key classes...

Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

I can't work full time and take my advanced classes, I can't legally drive and night classes are not an option. I can earn the associates most likely mixing in-school classes, CLEP exams and correspondance/distance learning if I'm careful. But for the bachelors I have to consider the most flexible option I have no choice in my case. Its a real degee the school in nattionally accredited and the student-teaching component is twice that of other students. I have to help my family and work likely for a few years at least. What am I supposed to do?

If I had a viable full-time or part-time local option I would take it but the nearest school with the type of education I want for upper grades is only available at Eckerd College and that is too expensive and in Tampa and I can't get there.

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I can't work full time and take my advanced classes, I can't legally drive and night classes are not an option. I can earn the associates most likely mixing in-school classes, CLEP exams and correspondance/distance learning if I'm careful. But for the bachelors I have to consider the most flexible option I have no choice in my case. Its a real degee the school in nattionally accredited and the student-teaching component is twice that of other students. I have to help my family and work likely for a few years at least. What am I supposed to do?

If I had a viable full-time or part-time local option I would take it but the nearest school with the type of education I want for upper grades is only available at Eckerd College and that is too expensive and in Tampa and I can't get there.

Have you looked into government help?  I know there are plenty of need-based scholarships available.  There's one called a Pel Grant, which I also received while going to school.

BTW, off-topic here, but on-topic regarding debts...where you're at now is similar to where I was at when I started college.  A lot of the debt I managed to accumulate came from trying to make ends meet while going to college, working, and trying to keep up an active extra-curricular life.  I wasn't a huge party animal, but I did a lot of volunteer work.  My mom is your typical, $13.00-an-hour corporate grunt and single, so I had no help from the family...my mom was lucky enough to keep herself afloat.  Not having a car wasn't an option, and I was lucky to have my godfather give me a used one as a gift.  Still, there was gas and insurance to pay for.  I had to take 15 credits a semester to maintain my scholarships, as opposed to the 12 most others take to maintain full-time status.  Hence, I had to work part time.  So, part-time job + gas and insurance for a car + miscellaneous costs (food, going out every once in a while, girls) = debt.

This is going to be a tough time for you.  However, if you work it right, you can come out on top, it just depends on what your priorities are.  I would strongly recommend looking into what kinds of aid you would be able to get, perhaps talking to a social worker might help.  It's a shame that a lot of kids don't go to college simply because they can't afford it, it's even worse when they don't go because of so many life variables working against them.

Offline RubySlippersTopic starter

Well I'm not one to take on debt and it doesn't matter money is not an issue I have a fund my grandmother set up for that so I can afford classes with work, its time that's the problem. No car means no night school. I can't legally drive (epilepsy) to get a license even if I could afford it. And I'm not on grunt pay with bonuses try more like $18-20 per hour.

But I have to work full time I have to help my parents they were there for me all my life and its my place to help them out financially. I can earn the associates easily enough with the CLEP exams and some work I knocked off a good amount of electives and some core courses. I can finish the rest in early morning classes and some distance learning from the local college. Like I said the advanced level courses are going to be the hard ones for that I may have to go with a distance learning college and only one is nationally accredited. Of course the student teaching must be done in the classroom but that I expect.

But one way or another I intend to get my degree and be sure its a good one for my plans.