If you’ve ever tried to help your child with their “new math” homework, you know that kids are not learning the same way we did. Educational models are constantly evolving, and advancements in technology have opened up a whole new world of creative ways that students can access information and made drastic changes in the kinds of assignments they are given. For many students, on-line education gives them the opportunity to get a degree, enhance their career, or explore an interest from the comfort of their own home – in their pajamas if they’d like.
by Alicia Wanek
Richland College offers seventeen programs and certificates that can be completed 100% on-line in one to two years. Students can earn an associate degree in arts, sciences, or applied science, as well as certificates designed for everyone from accounting clerks to software application specialists to international businessmen. When you consider the opportunity, the flexibility, and the affordability, these certificate programs and degree programs offer a perfect option for a variety of learners.
Susan Long, Richland’s Dean of Technology Enhanced Learning, knows first-hand about online learning. She earned a second Master’s degree online, and now she teaches online part-time for Richland. “I’m a big proponent of online learning. It was the right choice for me,” she says. “At the end of a long work day, usually the last thing I wanted to do was to go sit in a classroom all night.” Online courses allowed her to balance her full-time job and school in a way that worked for her.
Online education is available to everyone, but it takes the right kind of student. “You need to be self-motivated,” Susan suggests. The average age of someone enrolled in Richland’s online program is around 27, a little older than the typical college student. Students will spend an average of four to fourteen hours per week on coursework per class, and they need to be able to manage their time wisely. Most of the learning is via readings, visuals, and videos; so if you are an auditory learner and prefer a lot of interaction with your instructor, online learning may not be the best fit for you.
“I’m a big proponent of online learning. At the end of a long work day, usually the last thing I wanted to do was to go sit in a classroom all night.”
– Susan Long, Richland’s Dean of Technology Enhanced Learning, who earned a second Master’s degree online
Who are Richland’s online students? Many of them are stay-at-home moms who can work from home in between their children’s schedules. Others are full-time employees who need additional credentials to move up at work. A student can even be enrolled in, for example, an Associates of Applied Sciences program and be earning certificates in that field along the way to the Associate Degree. Some students are looking to change fields, and they might be studying toward a degree in one area while working in another.
Even though a student is working from home, they are still part of a class. “As an institution, we want students to interact with each other,” Susan reports. Courses offer online discussions where students can share ideas and files with other students enrolled in the same program. The online courses follow a schedule to ensure that all students are working together at the same rate.
Online education is a tremendous resource, and Richland’s mission is to “guide the Online Learning student on a path paved with quality courses, excellent faculty, and appropriate resources.” It might just be what you’re looking for.
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