Read about e-learning, also known as online learning or distance learning, and review the many kinds of schools that now offer e-learning programs. Find out how online courses work. Review some examples of online and hybrid programs.
Today, e-learning is a common and effective way to engage in postsecondary educational programs. This article will take a look at the e-learning process and show a couple examples of schools and programs that are offered through this format, all to help you understand the options available to you.
What Is E-Learning?
E-learning is a general term that encompasses all types of electronically supported education. It is the dissemination of information by way of technology. In general, this means the use of computers, the Internet or a combination of the two, to present an educational course or program from a remote location.
Under the name of distance learning or online learning, schools offer e-learning options that may entail stand-alone courses or programs leading to diplomas, certificates or degrees. Some schools exist entirely online. Others are brick-and-mortar schools that offer e-learning through entirely online programs or hybrid programs. Hybrid programs combine online and on-campus components.
What Types of Schools Are Involved?
The U.S. Department of Education has established the National Education Technology Plan. This plan encourages and provides for the development of e-learning technology in the public school system in several ways. In addition to increasing the use of online instruction and resources by primary and secondary students at participating public schools, the program also focuses on training teachers in the use of Internet technology in the classroom (www.ed.gov).
The Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) is approved by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as a nationally recognized accrediting agency for e-learning. Included in the DETC's online list of accredited institutions are high schools, public colleges, private colleges, non-profit schools, for-profit schools and trade institutions.
U.S. News and World Report presents an online list of schools that offer undergraduate and graduate degrees by way of e-learning (www.usnew.com). The schools are cross-categorized by several methods, including location, degree level and program delivery system.
How Are Programs or Courses Delivered?
All e-learning programs require you to have a computer. Most also require the computer to have Internet access and may stipulate a certain operating system, broadband connection or browser requirement. You may need course- or program-specific software in order to participate. Some e-learning programs are correspondence courses, which are presented entirely on DVD or CD-ROM, with assignments submitted via e-mail.
Many programs or courses require you to purchase textbooks or other materials to be used in conjunction with your computer and online course materials. Depending on the school, e-learning programs are presented synchronously or asynchronously. Synchronous delivery means that classes meet at assigned times via the Internet. You participate simultaneously in this 'live' setting by way of telecourses, teleconferencing, Web conferencing, instant messaging or Internet chat rooms.
Asynchronous delivery means that classes are presented at one time, but preserved online, so that you can review them at your convenience. You participate by way of message boards, e-mail, listserv, and typically a course management system, such as Blackboard. Correspondence courses can be classified as asynchronous. It's not uncommon for schools to offer you a combination of both asynchronous and synchronous delivery - in the form of a hybrid program - wherein your physical presence may be required for seminars, conferences or consultations.
What Are Some Examples of Programs?
Delivered completely online or in hybrid form by some high schools and colleges, e-learning programs can lead to a general diploma or a college preparatory diploma. Vocational high school diplomas are available with a concentration in plumbing, automobile mechanics or carpentry. If you find that you need to make up a particular high school course for credit or for your own personal interest or development, some schools offer stand-alone academic training in history, natural sciences, social sciences, economics, English or a foreign language.
Non-degree postsecondary education is available online in academics areas, as well for professional and personal development. Some examples are programs in teaching the blind, gemology and personal training. In addition to individual courses, you can enroll in programs that may lead to a Certificate of Completion or industry certification.
Undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate instruction leading to degrees from the associate's level to the doctoral level are available in nearly all disciplines. E-learning degrees can be found in engineering, psychology, health services, education, vocational studies or trades, business administration, law and religious studies.
Which Schools Offer Online Diploma or Certificate Programs?
You can find online certificate or diploma programs at a number of schools. Listed below are a few:
- Albany Technical College delivers an online Fire Science Technology diploma program
- Rowan-Cabarrus Community College has an online Medical Office Administration Diploma program
- Southern New Hampshire University offers a Certificate in Accounting program through the internet
Which Schools Offer Online Undergraduate Degree Programs?
Associate and bachelor degree programs can also be commonly found through distance learning. Take a look at these programs:
- Colorado Technical University hosts an online Associate of Science in Business Administration degree program
- Liberty University provides an Associate of Arts in Psychology degree program completely online
- Arizona State University has an online Bachelor of Art in Anthropology degree program
Which Schools Offer Online Graduate Degree Programs?
At the graduate level, many schools allow students to enroll in online master and doctoral degree programs, such as the examples below:
- Southern New Hampshire University hosts an online Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree program
- Walden University delivers a Doctor of Information Technology degree program online
- Purdue University has an online Master of Science in Communication degree program
Online learning covers an enormous range of subjects and degree levels, from diplomas to doctoral degrees. You can find diploma, certificate, undergraduate degree and graduate degree programs available completely online at many schools, which can help you fit education into a busy schedule.