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Can I trust online degrees to deliver quality learning experience?

Yes, says Distance Learning Expert, Miss Jamie Littlefield. Miss Littlefield indicates that a 2009 meta-study from the US Department of Education found that students taking online courses outperformed their peers in traditional classrooms.  In addition, it is noted that the growth in the number of online degrees moved from 32.5% in 2002 to 62.4% in 2012. Furthermore, online degrees are accredited by the same accrediting agencies like degrees in traditional institutions.

In short, generally speaking, online learning has proven to be effective, on the increase and accepted.

Here are five factors about online learning that are likely to enhance the overall learning experience, and therefore provide as good as or better quality learning experience than traditional classrooms.

1) Choice - Students are able to choose from a wide range of Colleges and Universities and are therefore more likely to find the types of programs which best suit their learning styles and career needs. These factors are likely to increase motivation and therefore accelerate learning.

2) Networking Opportunities - Students enrolled in online programs can network with peers not just across states but across the world. This networking provides a wealth of varied experiences and therefore can assist in a better preparation of students for the global marketplace.

3) Time and Money - Significant time and money can be saved because the student does not have to commute for online classes.  This extra time can mean more time to study and consequently improved grades. In addition, the extra money can mean better equipment, better meals and so on. All these factors can enhance the learning experience.

4) Flexibility - Online programs allow students to work at their own pace and at times and places convenient to them. A tired, hungry and sleepy student is not likely to absorb information as well as one who has had time to eat, sleep and have a refreshing bath, then study in an aesthetically pleasing environment.

5) Use of Multi-Media Technology - Online classes put a high premium on the use of multi-media technology to increase interactivity. Online programs together with the benefits listed previously are using facilities such as chat rooms, collaborative projects, message boards, podcasting, videos and web conferencing to improve interactivity, and therefore further enhance the learning process. There are therefore both quantitative and qualitative reasons to trust online degrees.

However, it must be admitted that online programs are not right for everyone. Some students lack the requisite discipline, and there is a high dropout level among online learners. We would be interested in hearing about your experiences with online learning and more specifically online degrees.