General Question

syz's avatar

Will online degrees eventually be as prestigous as campus college degrees?

Asked by syz (35647points) November 19th, 2014

When I consider the ever increasing cost of college, when I consider the integration of technology and the internet into every aspect of our life, I can’t help but think that online learning is only going to grow.

When online degrees first appeared on the scene, they were definitely disparaged. But now there are programs that are directly associated with reputable and even prestigious college programs.

Is “e learning” becoming mainstream? Will it overtake brick-and-mortar learning? When do you think that will happen?

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8 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

Maybe 25 years from now, when there are measurable outcomes of people who have had online education and used it successfully. But not before that.

The main problem with online education is that you’re not acting and comparable with your peers because you are sitting at your computer at home. There’s not the unstructured interaction that cross-pollinates how people learn. (Yes there are chat rooms but that’s qualitatively different from a heated argument in a Constitutional Law class.)

What needs to happen, for online education to be considered “equal” is that college grads need to measurably as well prepared as people who attend classes in person. Meaning, among other things, that their jobs, incomes, and actions are equal. And the only way to determine that equivalency is longitudinally – after the passage of time to see that online educated people have reached the same level of accomplishment 10, 20, 30 years after graduation.

Buttonstc's avatar

Part of it will clearly depend upon what subject the degree is in.

For example, I can’t imagine an online only program for teaching or psychology (where supervised practicing experience is critical to the completion of one’s degree.)

But for more cut and dried things like Math or Accpunting, that would be one example where it might work.

I certainly wouldn’t be comfortable putting my life in the hands of a Dr. who got his degree entirely online, would you?

ragingloli's avatar

Only in fields that do not require any actual practice.
Forget medicine, engineering, or any of the hard sciences like biology, chemistry or physics.

LostInParadise's avatar

Given the costs that you mention, I think it is inevitable. Arizona State University has converted to an entirely online format. There is not much advantage in listening to a large lecture in person over watching online couirses. Pre-recorded online lectures have the advantage that you can schedule them at your convenience, rewind if you missed something, and halt the lecture and resume at a later time. Online lectures could also include self-test questions to check your understanding of the material.

I can envision a hybrid between the current way of doing things and online. Maybe lectures, given by highly paid professors, could be given online, with recitation and lab classes done in person. There is an advantage for professors as well, because their time would be freed up to more research, without having to give lectures.

Another possibility is to have separate testing and teaching institutions. That would allow people to save money if they can learn on their own, and just pay the costs of being tested. The current way of doing things is outdated, more suitable to the Middle Ages than the 21st century.

janbb's avatar

We have to distinguish between online courses offered at standard universities and colleges and online only for profit universities. Many colleges, including the one I work at, offer some courses as online or have online modules and components. From what I read, I have no direct knowledge, some of the for-profit online only universities have very high drop-out rates and poor results. I think this will change over time and more degrees will be gotten online; however, I believe there is a strong value to in-person class instruction as a component of education.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Only when it gets regulated by accredation boards and only under certain programs. It’s a free for all right now with the for profits dominating. I consider many to be criminal. Eventually brick and mortar institutions will price themselves out of existance if current trends continue. This will force certain programs to go online. A degree in computer science would probably be ok. Something like civil engineering….no way. Besides the student-faculty interface and interaction between students is critical and cannot be reproduced online in a meaningful way.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I have intimate knowledge of this and students leave some degrees after studying online and there’s nothing to say which mode they studied in. They walk out with exactly the same degree. Many, indeed most, universities over here now offer online study as at least part of their degree programs. Obviously for degrees that need practical skills, they will need to do lab work or work-integrated-learning as well, but students can access lecture materials over the net and collaborative tasks can be managed online. I do this every day. Some students hate it, some love it. There will always be a requirement for various modes of attendance. However, the idea that online learning is inferior to on campus learning is not accurate. It depends on the program, the teacher(s) and the student’s motivation (as it does on campus).

archananair's avatar

Yes looking at it popularity I think after few years it will be as prestigious as college degree.

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