Exemplary Online Learning

Richard Keir

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As the demand, and supply, for online learning and distance learning of all kinds continues to increase, it's fascinating to look at what a fully developed and highly acclaimed online university is like.

The University of Phoenix is a relatively new institution. Founded less than 30 years ago (in 1976), it was not only one of the first accredited universities to provide complete degree programs as an online college, but it has now become the leader in the field in the United States.

The size of their operation is astonishing. They've developed into the largest accredited university in the United States. Here are some of the numbers they provide: more than 17,200 instructors, 163 campus locations and learning centers in 33 states, Puerto Rico, Canada and now Mexico, and over 171,600 earned degrees since 1976. They provide, naturally, world spanning online learning through the internet.

Their curriculums are developed by working with industry and business in order to provide the skills and knowledge that are in demand. Focused on providing not only the content needed by today's professionals and businesses, they continue to upgrade their formats and methods as well as their curriculums.

An innovative program put in place by the University of Phoenix is called FlexNet. Rather than being a purely online learning experience, a portion of each course is held at a campus or learning center location. For many this feature adds a sense of personal and community involvement, giving the student a chance to interact directly with instructors and classmates.

Courses at the University of Phoenix Online are concentrated. Students need to be willing to make a serious commitment.

While online learning courses vary they tend to have certain features in common. In today's hectic environment, the ability to flexibly schedule your hours is critically important for many prospective students. Being confined to fixed hours in a fixed location for a traditional offline course just won't work for many. The demands of work and family too often cause missed classes.

Traditional college education may also involve taking subjects with little application to the professional's working life. Online education can allow you complete a degree in two or three years.

In many online college environments, all your courses will be focused on your professional needs. Generally, you'll also be able to focus on one course at a time rather than having to split your attention among several over a long period. This intensity and focus can be a significant benefit.

Since most online and distance learning is oriented toward professionals, working people, generally the materials you'll study will be up-to-date and can be used immediately in your working environment. This combination of studying things that you can implement, materials relevant to your work, can make online learning a uniquely rewarding and pleasant way to earn a degree.

You do want to make sure that wherever you decide to study, that it is accredited and that any degree or certification in a field that requires licensure or state certification will be accepted by your state. If your employer has an educational reimbursement plan, be sure to verify that the college or university you chose will be acceptable. In some cases, part of your expenses may also be tax-deductible. Accreditation is important not only for employer acceptance, but also if you are going to seek scholarship funds to help with the cost.

The University of Phoenix is not the only place offering online learning, but it does give you a pretty good introduction to what's possible. They offer everything from AA degrees to Doctoral programs with a large variety of specialized Bachelor of Science and Master's degrees as well as professional certifications and non-degree courses. You can explore their offerings at http://www.phoenix. edu/ .

With today's demands for highly educated and specialized professionals, the value of online learning has never been clearer. The fast paced and mobile lifestyles so common now demand solutions that can fit into our lives, not ones that require us to squeeze into them and disrupt our careers and families for 3 or 4 years. The growth and acceptance of online education makes it virtually certain that you can find a program and a university or college that offers what you need to get ahead - and a way to fit it into your life.

Copyright 2005 Richard Keir

Despite already being overeducated, Richard continues to enjoy learning as a part of his teaching, writing and internet business activities. The growth of the internet as medium for learning is one of his major interests. For more about online learning visit http://www.learning.werkz.org/


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