Thursday, January 24, 2008

Studying Online

On Words

Studying Online


Jakarta – Last column we discussed the benefits of following the higher-education pathway overseas. Today, we will explore some reasons as to why we should consider doing this online.

I have taken online classes with schools in Britain and the United States for a number of years now and feel that the classes have been a boon to me both professionally and personally. I have also worked with and hired people who have earned qualifications online.

Through the use of the internet and virtual classrooms, I have truly felt that I have been part of these classes. After much reflection and research I have come up with five main reasons a person should consider studying online.

1. For many, the most important reason for pursuing a degree online is cost. Distance learning saves money on transportation plus room and board at a school. As stated in our last column, these costs can easily add up to (USD) $10,000 per year.

University of Massachusetts, Amherst charges around $300 per credit for online undergraduate classes. A full-time student completes 30 credits a year which adds up to $ 9,000. Clearly, you can see that by choosing to stay in Jakarta while virtually studying overseas you can cut your expenses in half.

2. My online learning experiences have been vastly different to those of my earlier university years in California. Back then, the huge majority of us were pretty much the same, in our twenties and from Northern California.

Distance learning introduces you to people from all over the world and from all walks of life. Online, I have studied with and learned from peers living on three continents with each possessing unique professional backgrounds and life experiences. An analytical writing class I completed just last week had a Transportation Security Administration inspector, preschool teachers, a computer programmer, a traveler and a metal shop worker for students. They all made for an interesting mixture that made the learning enjoyable and worthwhile.

3. Although distance learning students are in classes comprised of students from around the globe, they are still able to enjoy the benefits of living at home. They can use these years to learn the family business or help with whatever familial responsibilities need to be covered. Furthermore, by remaining home you do not need to be concerned with the costs and troubles of securing a student visa. Overall, staying put in Indonesia while studying online is a great option for those with full-time jobs or families.

4. With distance learning, students have constant and immediate access to course materials. The classes I have been in have had bulletin boards, email communications, online content and library access. I have been able to study and review the materials at my convenience. There is no need for me to carry books around, since as long as I have internet access I can study.

Also, when students post their work in the virtual classroom we were able to review and learn from it. There have been many occasions when I was simply amazed, in a positive way, by someone else’s take on a topic.

In addition to classes that you enroll in, many universities post lectures online free of charge for anyone to learn from. Of course, you will not get class credit for learning this way, but the benefits to learning need not be only pragmatic.

In the autumn of this year, Stanford University, ranked second best in the world by The Economist Magazine, offered the following free seminars: Seminar in Guidance, Navigation and Control, Bioengineering and Biodesign Forum, Law for Computer Science Professionals, Software on Demand, Frontiers in Interdisciplinary Biosciences, Human-Computer Interaction Seminar, Seminar on Computer Systems, Seminar: Topics in International Technology Management and Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Seminar.

Harvard University likewise offers such lectures online. Another way to find free digitalized lessons and lectures is through Apple’s iTunes software.

5. Distance learning instruction forces students to become fluent in the languages of English and technology. There is a basic educational tenet that all classes are language classes. I like that idea. After all, math has its own vocabulary and needs, just as the different sciences and other subjects do. I feel that technology should be treated the same. In reality, all classes are technology classes. Online classes enable students to improve their English and technological capabilities no matter where they live.

Whichever direction you decided to follow, local, online or overseas, I wish you success in your educational pursuits.



This article was originally published Dec. 23, 2007 in The Jakarta Post.

No comments: