The United States
Distance Learning Association (USDLA)
defines distance learning as "the acquisition of knowledge and skills through
mediated information and instruction, encompassing all technologies and
other forms of learning at a distance." The USDLA goes on to cite that
research studies have been consistent in finding that the results of distance
learning programs are just as effective as traditional learning, and that
student attitudes are generally positive about the experience.
largely via videotape and closed circuit television, the Internet is playing
an important role in increasing both the availability and popularity of
distance learning programs. There are many online providers offering courses to willing participants, but not all programs come with a stamp of approval like accreditation. Although students may be able to receive a quality education, degrees without reputable accreditation may not be as appealing to grad schools or employers. More than 4.6 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2008 term, a 17 percent increase from 2007, according to a Sloan Survey of Online Learning report.
But, how does
online learning work?
Classroom - What's the Real Difference?
In many ways,
taking one of Pace's online courses is no different than taking a traditional
class. Online courses have the same objectives, tuition and academic credit
as their on-campus counterparts. You'll still have an instructor, textbooks,
classmates, homework assignments and exams.
also offer the same rigorous workload you would expect in a more traditional
setting. You should plan to spend the same amount of time with an online
class as you would any campus-based course - typically about 12-16 hours
each week for a four credit course.
There are benefits to choosing an online degree program: Courses can be cheaper than in-class courses, there is flexibility to take classes day or night, and location won't hinder your chances to earn the degree.
courses run on a semester basis as do most traditional classes, with a
specific starting and ending date. Most courses last about 15 weeks, and
each week brings a new lecture and set of assignments.
assignments for the week are posted each Thursday morning, and all assignments
should be completed by midnight (Eastern Time) the following Wednesday
unless stated otherwise by an instructor. Assignments might include readings,
quizzes, review of Web sites, participation in discussion boards, problems,
projects or papers among other activities. Some courses will have mid-terms
and final exams while others will require a project (sometimes a group
project) that will take place over several weeks.
NACTEL and Pace
have been working hard to create an interactive program to help enhance
There are a
few things to consider before joining the online education revolution.
first… you'll need a computer that is fairly up-to-date with current software.
Be sure to check out our Technical Requirements
successfully, you should have some level of proficiency in using your computer.
For example, can you:
If that's all Greek
to you, no worries. Just know that you'll have to learn how to use your
computer as you're going through your courses - which can make it a little
more challenging and time consuming.
create, save and
manage files (on your computer)?
send and receive
email messages with file attachments?
paste text from
a word processor into an email message?
is not for everyone. It requires a certain amount of independence and self-discipline
in order to be successful. Examine your personal learning style. Are you
staying on task
without direct supervision?
hours per class each week?
via written instructions and textbooks?
learning new computer
or technology skills?
will also require a proctor, someone to administer
select exams or assignments. You'll be expected to identify a proctor and
notify Pace, as well as factor in any additional time needed to set up
A final consideration
is communication. Pace encourages communication between students and with
instructors via email and discussion boards. However, some students find
these online means of interaction less satisfying than face-to-face meetings.