Online degrees are Internet based programs that make it possible for individuals to obtain a degree from an accredited college or university. Because many online degree programs are extremely flexible, there is usually not a requirement to attend virtual classes at specific times of the week. This arrangement is very attractive to working adults who must continue to work full time while seeking a degree in the discipline of their choice.
The online degree program has evolved since the development of the first few offerings of the late 1980’s. Where once the individual sessions that composed a given course were mainly text, today’s online class sessions often include a mixture of text, graphics, and in some cases video lectures that are streamed across a secure channel. While not offered in a real time environment, these audio and visual enhancements provide the student with a wider range of stimuli to employ in assimilating the information provided in the course.
At the same time, the student can continue to meet the demands of work and family while pursuing the online degree. The class sessions are made available around the clock. This makes it possible to attend the classes at midnight, if that is what fits into the schedule of the student.
At one time, the type of degrees available through online attendance was severely limited. To a degree, this was due to limitations in the technological tools available for use in a virtual classroom setting. As Internet capabilities continued to expand, the ability to adapt a wider range of common educational tools and techniques to an online environment became possible. As a result, it is now possible to obtain an online Bachelor’s degree in many more disciplines that was possible even as recently as 2000.
However, there is still some degree of opposition to online degrees. A portion of the education community still considers this approach to learning as inferior to actual classroom attendance. This has led some employers to also think of degrees obtained from online attendance to not be as comprehensive as traditional learning situations.
The truth is that an online degree obtained from a fully accredited university or college requires that the student comply with the same criteria as a traditional student attending a brick and mortar institution of higher learning. The student is still required to attend classes on a weekly basis, interact with the instructor regularly, complete homework assignments and take exams within a specified period of time, and to participate in virtual discussions with the other students taking the course. Online degree programs today make all this possible, making use of all the communication technology currently available via the Internet.
While some examples of an online degree program feature accelerated coursework to allow the working adult to obtain the online degree in a shorter period of time, many programs follow the same quarter of semester approach as traditional settings, including limiting the number of courses that may be taken during the period.