Many employers do not distinguish between an online degree and an on-campus degree as long as your qualifications are recognized in your field. For some employers, qualifying online gives them unique skills that help them stand out from the crowd. Students considering online learning should not hesitate to the old-fashioned notion that “real” degrees are conferred only by campus-based educational institutions.
Some feel that online learning requires a higher level of spontaneity. Educational institutions recognize that educational support is as important as tutor feedback and take great care to ensure that students receive the same support they receive on campus. Online learning is the future of education. Discover how it works and why it is the perfect study abroad option for you!
Resources for Online Learning
In general, when taking an online degree program you might encounter resources like:
- Recorded lectures;
- Discussion forums
- Live Q&A sessions; and
The resources offered to you for learning online will depend on the institution where you take your online program. Some online learning programs may require you to order physical textbooks in advance by in the mail, but these are generally being phased out in favor of eBooks and online-only methods of delivery.
For those institutions that have made the transition to using 100% online resources, students can expect to study using a combination of cutting-edge technological resources with no need to travel to attend lectures, exams or in-person discussion sessions!
Taking an online learning program, you’ll be an officially registered student at your institution and have access to the same resources as an on-campus student, like your institution’s digital library, learning management system (like Blackboard), student union membership and more! An online degree is similar to taking a degree program on campus, but you have the freedom to direct your own study schedule.
Recognition of Online Qualifications
Many online institutions are fully accredited institutes of higher learning. Your institution will clearly state the type of qualification you’ll gain from pursuing an online program with them – from bachelor to master degrees, graduate certificates, and everything in-between. Use online learning to gain the qualifications you need!
Despite this, students researching online institutions are still encouraged to research their accreditation, the type of qualification you’ll earn from an online learning program, and the nature of the online institution itself.
How is Online Learning Assessed?
Students taking a degree program or an individual course online will still be tested at regular intervals throughout their study period to assess their understanding of the course materials.
For those new to online education, this process can be intimidating. But there’s no need to worry! Online institutions are experienced professionals, they’ll ensure that your assessments are fair, comfortable, and designed to help you make the most of your learning experience.
Discover the assessment types you’re likely to encounter when taking an online degree program or course:
- Individual Assignments
These are probably the method of assessment that students will have the most experience with. For each assignment, you’ll receive your topic, deadline and word count. You’ll be required to produce a structured, reasoned argument within the boundaries set out by your course instructor.
- Discussion activities
Face-to-face discussions between friends and colleagues is something that we all do every day. However, an online academic discussion requires a different set of skills, and might not come as naturally when your first start your online learning journey. Not to worry, you’ll get the hang of it!
These activities will differ depending on the institution, but your course instructor will generally start each discussion off with a question or topic for debate. Students then need to research the topic and post their responses to the task demonstrating their own knowledge and understanding. Often, you’ll end up in a debate with the ideas and views posted by fellow students.
- Journal activities
Like discussion boards, journal activities tend to be specific to online courses. A journal entry is an ongoing update giving you the opportunity to reflect back on what you’ve learned during the period under review, and how you’ll apply what you’ve learned in the future. Online learning doesn’t take place in classrooms, and journal entries are straightforward ways for course instructors to get a grasp of how you’re progressing through the course and if you’re gaining knowledge in the right areas.
Unlike other assignments, it is acceptable to use a subjective, personal style of writing in journal entries and refer to yourself in the first person. Think, “Over the last week, I’ve learned how to …” Journal entries are often required, but ungraded – be genuine!
Although they can be nerve-wracking, exams are a key way to test your learning.
Institutions may choose to allow students to complete their exams on their own personal computer, in a location of their choosing. Because tutors have no way to oversee a virtual exam or test, they are typically open-book and open-note. As a viable alternative, many institutions will offer the option of completing ‘take-home’ examinations in the form of an essay or final assignment. Some institutions may use exam software like virtual proctors, or tools to monitor if you visit new web pages.