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Credibility of Online Degrees

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The Sloan Consortium’s 2006 report stated that "in 2003, 57% of academic leaders rated the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face. That number is now 62%, a small but noteworthy increase.” This is an indication of the growing prevalence of online education in society today, given the unprecedented advancement in technology. In my opinion, online degrees offered by universities need not be seen as a replacement for the traditional degrees, but instead they could be seen as complements to the conventional ones that are already in place.
An online degree offers the opportunity for accredited higher education to individuals such as adults with hectic working lives since it serves as a form of convenience for a supplementary education. This is because course documents could be accessed easily on the Internet which would enable learning at their leisure despite busy schedules or the hassle of commuting to school. For example, in the U.S., a working mother, Janice Barnwell chose an online university to advance her career by obtaining a master 's degree in business and also, “two million students, most older than the traditional 18-22 year-old undergraduates, take all their courses online and two million more take one or more online course.” Given that study materials would be archived and saved on websites, they are easily available online for re-reading and revision. As such, an online curriculum enhances one’s knowledge as it serves as a degree of convenience which an individual could acquire additionally to further complement their expertise.
Furthermore, online degrees create supplementary tools to help further facilitate learning experience. For instance, students who are more reserved may not learn as well in classrooms if they are disengaged in group settings. In this case, virtual classrooms would be more favorable as they could have the opportunity to partake in online discussions which are often more inclusive and productive than classroom debates. Moreover, using the Internet for attending lessons, researching and communicating with other students teaches additional skills such as effective communication and using technologies that would be critical to working life in today’s society.
Conversely, critics may argue that online degrees may not be as credible which could thus possibly dilute a university’s brand name. According to Business Weekly (2010), America is home to 810 bogus universities, and these institutions which attempt to endorse themselves as acknowledged universities online, would undeniably make it more difficult for the public to accept online degrees due to their doubt of the reliability of a virtual degree. This is the main reason why “employers are still skeptical about the notion of earning a degree online and generally prefer applicants who hold degrees from traditional colleges and universities”. In conclusion, the idea of obtaining an online degree is still novel to many education traditionalists, but that does not mean that the credibility of a degree from an attributed school with a reputation for educational excellence would be lowered. Instead, one should view online degrees as complements to the conventional ones that are already in place seeing as they do in fact aid in the provision of additional edification to individuals who wish to advance their proficiencies.

References:
Allen, I. Elaine; Seaman, Jeff (2006). Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006. The Sloan Consortium.
CBS News (2009). Earning a degree online. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/08/26/earlyshow/contributors/reginalewis/main570268.shtml
Reuters Limited (2009). Online education expands for U.S. need, awaits innovation. Retrieved from http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/education/2009-10-04-online-degree_N.htm

References: Allen, I. Elaine; Seaman, Jeff (2006). Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006. The Sloan Consortium. CBS News (2009). Earning a degree online. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/08/26/earlyshow/contributors/reginalewis/main570268.shtml Reuters Limited (2009). Online education expands for U.S. need, awaits innovation. Retrieved from http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/education/2009-10-04-online-degree_N.htm

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