Distance education

How to Make Online Schooling a Smooth Process

Online Universities

Today’s typical college student has changed dramatically in the past few decades. The traditional university student used to be the fresh high school graduate with no obligations to interfere with a full course load, but thanks to the advent of online university and college programs, current college attendees are more likely to work full-time and have family obligations competing with their class time.

Online programs offer flexibility to these students, allowing them to attend classes asynchronously from their homes at whatever time is most convenient. Despite the advances in distance education, new students still need to make adjustments to prepare for the challenges unique to working adult learners. This article strives to help make the process of beginning higher education smoother and more enjoyable.

Prepare for Virtual Interaction and Self-Guided Study

Most online courses are learner-centered, which means that the learner carries more responsibility for meeting course objectives and requirements than the instructor. The instructor is still present in an online university course, but he or she will take more of a mentor or facilitator role, while the learner will rely mostly on assigned readings, research, and interaction with fellow students and the instructor via guided discussion.

Many programs include both synchronous and asynchronous communication to make this work. Discussion boards, shared websites, wikis, and email are forms of asynchronous contact where the individuals can communicate in different places at different times.

A web chat room or video conference enables students and instructors to interact synchronously, where they are all together at the same time despite being in different locations. Learners who are not used to this new environment often adjust readily during the first week of class when the assignments are focused on orienting students and encouraging them to introduce themselves and interact using the discussion methods outlined for the course.

Explore the Classroom Environment

Students in online university programs need to be familiar with the user interfaces for their online classroom environments and virtual tools provided to students by the institution. The best programs offer learners access to vast digital libraries and web resources to use for research instead of brick and mortar libraries accessible to the traditional students. The online classroom environments differ between colleges, but quality programs will provide tutorials for students before the beginning of a term.

The best way to become proficient with the user interfaces is to explore them during one’s free time and begin interacting with other students as soon as possible. Again, most courses are designed with primary activities to aid new students in adjusting to the environment.

Check Hardware, Software, and Internet Capabilities

The online university website and student handbook should provide a list of technology requirements that students are expected to meet before starting the program. This list will include the minimum hardware specifications for computers and mobile devices as well as a minimum speed for the Internet.

Students are responsible for meeting these requirements, and most instructors will expect learners to have alternatives plans in case their home Internet is not working. This could include a local cafe or library that extends access to public Internet service. Students should always obtain email and telephone contact information from their instructors to maintain contact if they do run into problems with these services.

The recent growth of online degree programs has brought unprecedented opportunities to busy working adults and parents. However, one should be prepared for the change from instructor-led to learner-centered curricula. Furthermore, new online students will want to learn how to access and use their virtual school and study tools before starting their programs.

Resources Consulted

WGU

U.S. News

KQED News

eLearning Industry

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Mayfield University and Must University Are Scams

Black Woman on the Computer

(Photo Credit: Madame Noire)

Unfortunately, any person with the talent to design a website can claim to offer accredited online degrees.  For those considering obtaining a degree online, it’s important to resolve whether the institution they’re planning to attend is legitimate and accredited.  Mayfield University and Must University are two fake online “universities” scamming people out of their money.  People across the world have been scammed out of their money by these two fake and unaccredited “institutions.”  Although Mayfield University and Must University both have nice websites, the attractive appearance of the websites are a part of the scam the people behind these websites are using.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) offers a database for people to check to see if an institution has accreditation in the United States.  This database also provides consumers with a list of legitimate accreditors.

We have to be careful about giving money to the people behind these scams, considering Rochville University, a phony online university, is believed to be a vehicle for terrorist funding.

Consumers must understand that they cannot earn a degree completely or mostly through “life experience” credits.  When you hear and/or see a degree being offered solely or mostly through life experience credits, then this is one of the strongest indicators that this is a fake and unaccredited institution.

Don’t get so desperate to obtain a degree that you’re willing to buy one from these bogus operations, such as Mayfield University, Must University, and Rochville University.  After spending large sums of money for these phony degrees, you will be highly disappointed that you wasted your money.  Although many people like to get something for nothing, a degree is something that you have to earn—legitimate degrees cannot be bought.

Numerous Revolutionary Paideia readers have contacted me about the aforementioned online universities.  They have shared with me how they have been scammed by these bogus operations, and they have asked for my assistance in helping them to get their money back that they have lost through these scams.  Fortunately, many readers are thanking me for writing articles that helped them to avoid the scams of fake online institutions.  We have to spread the word about these online universities to make it possible for more people to evade the scams of online universities.

It’s unfair for anyone to attempt to argue that fake online institutions should keep everyone from pursuing degrees online.  If you have a desire to obtain a degree online, then you need to check with CHEA to see if the institution is accredited.  If the institution does not show up in CHEA’s database, then you shouldn’t waste your time with the school.  CHEA’s database aids us in resolving whether an institution is accredited.  While an institution can be legitimate without having accreditation, it’s best to avoid those online institutions that aren’t accredited.  Attending an unaccredited online institution could put you at risk of attending a phony institution.

Never settle for the lies of phony online universities.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Accreditation and Fake Online “Universities”


Accreditation

Diploma mills and fake online “colleges” and “universities” are increasingly rising (Noble, 1998; Noble, 2002).  A number of phony online “institutions” advertised online are unaccredited and defrauding people.  Revolutionary Paideia has reported about one of these fake “institutions,” Rochville University.  The accreditation and reaccreditation process is engaged in to protect the public’s trust in a degree.  Many online universities are legitimate accredited higher education institutions.  Two examples of legitimate accredited online higher education institutions are Walden University and Capella University.

Before you invest your time and money in obtaining a degree completely online, be sure to check with the United States Department of Education and/or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) to ascertain if the online institution of your choice is accredited by the Department of Education and/or one of the legal accrediting bodies (which one can find out by going to the CHEA website).  On the CHEA website, one can find papers, videos, resources and etc. about accreditation and diploma mills.

Additionally, Craig Mayfield has published a valuable explanation of accreditation at http://www.onlinemba.com/guide/.  Once on the site, scroll down and you will find his work on accreditation under the section, “All About Accreditation.”  You will be pleased with the information Craig Mayfield provides about accreditation.  He even provides information about the legal accrediting agencies.  Legal accrediting agencies determine which institutions will be accredited and which will not be accredited.

It’s important for degree-seekers to understand they cannot receive a legal accredited degree by receiving all, most, or a substantial credit for “life experience.”  When you see “life experience” advertised in exchange for a degree, you need to know someone is attempting to scam you.  Don’t be fooled!  Too many people have contacted Revolutionary Paideia about being scammed by fake “universities,” so please don’t become the next victim.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Online Education, Students of Color, and Access to Higher Education


Many people of color simply have circumstances that do not allow them to attend traditional brick and mortar higher education institutions. Fortunately, higher education has a strong online presence. Most traditional colleges and universities now offer some type of training and/or undergraduate and graduate degrees online. For example, at the University of Arkansas (www.uark.edu), one can select from a range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs (even doctoral degree programs). For students looking to attend a historically Black college or university, Albany State University (www.asurams.edu) offers undergraduate and graduate degrees online. Another traditional brick and mortar university that offers undergraduate and graduate degrees online is Troy University (www.troy.edu). For people of color looking to pursue higher education and need to benefit from the flexibility of not having to attend a college or university in person, I highly recommend you consider attending a college or university online. You may be thinking that you could attend college if only you could have the flexibility of not having to attend classes physically. This may be the thought of some people who think that their current jobs would interfere with them attending college.

In a post-affirmative action society, many students of color should really consider online education as a means of receiving training in higher education. You may not have the funds to live on campus, so it may benefit you to attend the college or university you plan to attend online. If you want to participate in student activities on campus, you can always drive to the physical campus—if the institution is near you.

One of the strongest reasons why I think online education can be one of the best ways to improve access to higher education is it reduces costs that accompany physically attending a college or university. For example, if you are attending college online, then you don’t have to worry about parking costs, increased fuel costs, having transportation to and from school, room and board expenses, and etc. For many people of color, these significant savings can make the difference in their ability to attend college.

Some acts of racism can be avoided by attending classes online. If you attend a predominantly White institution online, then you could avoid campus issues that involve race in undesirable ways.

For those interested in attending completely online universities that do not have challenging admission standards, then you might want to consider Walden University (www.waldenu.edu) and Argosy University (www.argosy.edu). Those two online universities are accredited by the same accreditors who accredit an elite university like the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Walden University and Argosy University are two quality online universities that some students of color who have not performed well coming out of high school or even undergrad should consider.

I am not trying to promote online education as the panacea to problems that students of color have with gaining increased access to higher education. Online education, however, is something we should consider when thinking about how to improve access to higher education for students of color.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison