21st Apr, 2009 | Source : Distance Education and training Council
An estimated 8 million Americans are currently enrolled in distance learning programs. Because it relies so heavily on Internet-related technology, distance learning is frequently called “online learning.” The flexible study schedules, self-paced courses, and technological advances are attracting more students now than ever before, and educational opportunities in online education increase all the time. In fact, enrollments in online courses and degree programs are increasing by about 25% each year.
If you are interested in enrolling in a distance learning school, you probably have a lot of questions. Choosing the correct school is an important decision, and the well-informed student is the most likely to succeed in distance study.
A great place to start your research on which distance education institution and program best fits your personal needs is to spend some time with DETC’s user-friendly, information-rich website at www.detc.org
Q: What are the benefits of distance education?
A: Distance learning students experience the freedom of studying when and where they choose. This flexibility allows each student to create his own study schedule. Students can accelerate through courses very quickly, or they can move at a slower pace if necessary. For many students, this individual approach to education promotes a more productive learning environment. Distance learning also allows a student to maintain his career, family, and personal commitments while taking courses. Students who live in rural areas find that distance education permits them to enroll in programs that otherwise would not be available in their locations. And with the cost of commuting to a classroom increasing these days, studying at home makes even more sense than ever for those who must watch their expenses.
Q: What types of students seek out distance learning?
A: Distance learners are often independent,industrious students eager to gain more knowledge in a chosen field. Often, they are older than “traditional students,” and their ages typically range from 25-55 years old. Adult learners tend to be more experienced and are highly motivated to earn a degree or gain valuable job skills. Of course, any hardworking, goal-oriented, mature person who shows enthusiasm to study on their own is an excellent candidate for distance education.
Q: What types of distance learning courses are available?
A: wide variety of distance learning courses are available, including high school diploma programs, vocational courses, and college degree programs from an Associate’s to a Professional Doctoral Degree. DETC schools currently offer more than 500 fields of study with an array of programs ranging from accounting to yacht design. DETC accredits schools offering courses at the Kindergarten through Professional Doctoral Degree level.
Q: What should I look for in a distance learning school?
A: First and foremost, find out which U.S. Department of Education-recognized accrediting agency accredits the school. Then find out how long the school has been in operation, make sure the school’s courses are up to date, that it maintains competent staff and instructors, that it adheres to ethical standards, that it is truthful in its advertising methods, and that it is financially responsible and can continue to meet its obligations to students. All of this information can be found by contacting the school’s accrediting agency directly. The most important factor to check is this: “Is the institution accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting association?” The quickest way to check on any U.S. institution’s accreditation status is to log onto www.chea.org and click on the Database of Institutions.
Q: What methods of learning will I use as a student at a school?
A: This depends on which school you enroll in. Some distance learning schools are still primarily “correspondence based,” which means you send and receive materials through the mail. Other institutions operate entirely online—information is provided through Web sites, online libraries,threaded discussions, live chats, Web-based videos, podcasts and more. Currently, many schools offer a combination of correspondence and online materials.Some schools still use textbooks and give students the option of mailing assignmentsinstead of completing or submitting them online. Your preference of learning methods, be it correspondence, online, or a combination of both, is personal, and you should find the school that best suits your needs.
Q: As a distance learning student, what degree of communication can I expect from my instructor or fellow students?
A: Again, this depends on the school, but accredited institutions are motivated to engage in frequent interactions with students, and it is common to see frequent written, emailed and telephoned communication between faculty, staff, and students. Institutions usually mail study texts with the schedule of assignments to the student. Professors and instructors communicate via e-mail with students. One of the Internet’s most important roles in distance education may be the facilitation of communication between students and faculty. Video conferencing, live chats, threaded discussion boards, and e-mail help the student develop a sense of community when taking a distance learning course. With the Internet, the student does not have to feel like a completely solitary learner—a classmate or instructor is only an e-mail message away.
Q: I’m concerned that a distance education
school could really be a “fly by night” operation. How can I protect myself?
A: Make sure the school you’re interested in is accredited by a legitimate, nationally recognized accrediting association. “Nationally recognized” indicates that the accrediting association is recognized by either the United States Department of Education, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or both. Accreditation is a voluntary process and ensures that the school has submitted to a thorough evaluation process, and that its academic, business, and ethical standards have been assessed. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau in the institution’s state to learn about complaints filed against the school. If the school is accredited by a recognized accrediting association, you shouldn’t have to worry about any scams or dishonest procedures. Be alert, however, to the many dozens of unrecognized accrediting associations plying the waters of the Internet. The easiest way to check on an accrediting association’s status is to go to www.chea.org which lists all recognized (Federal and CHEA recognized) accrediting bodies in its database.
Q: How do I recognize a diploma mill?
A: It can be difficult to determine whether a school is actually a “diploma mill”—an institution granting degrees for a set price with little or no work required. Accreditation can assure students that the school is not a diploma mill, but not all unaccredited schools are suspect. Remember, accreditation is voluntary on the part of the educational institution. You should be very cautious, however, if an unaccredited school exhibits any of the following warning signs: the school claims to be accredited when it is not, or its accrediting agency is not recognized; degrees are granted solely or mostly on life or work experience; the school lacks state or federal licensure to operate; the “university” charges a single fee for an entire degree program; when degrees can be purchased for little work; the school fails to provide a list of faculty and their qualifications; the school does not provide a physical address or businesslocation; degrees can be earned in a very short period of time.
Q: What exactly does accreditation mean?
A: Accreditation is a non-governmental, peer review process designed to determine whether an educational institution meets specific standards of academic quality and ethical practice. The school voluntarily submits to a thorough evaluation process to prove it can meet and maintain the accrediting agency’s published standards. Accreditation can benefit a school by encouraging improvement through self-evaluation process and by assuring the public that the school has clearly defined objectives and is working to improve and maintain all aspects of its operations. The United States Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) are the two third-party agencies that recognize legitimate accrediting agencies in the United States. The DETC has operated since l926, and is a non-profit educational association that promotes sound education and good business practices in the field of distance education. DETC has emerged as the most experienced accrediting association in the USA for the accreditation of online and distance learning institutions.
Q: How does DETC accreditation compare to regional accreditation?
A: One critical difference between regional agencies and the DETC is that the DETC specializes in accrediting distance learning institutions—those are the only institutions DETC accredits, while regional groups primarily are focused on and accredit residential institutions. DETC currentlyaccredits dozens of institutions offering degree programs up through the professional doctoral degree. DETC’s standards are extremely high, and institutions must submit to very thorough evaluations. Some institutions cling to the outdated notion that U.S. regional accreditation is the only—or only acceptable—type of accreditation. This is simply no longer true. National accreditation—from a recognized agency like the DETC—has the same and even higher standards than regional bodies, and like them, enjoys both U.S. Department of Education and CHEA recognition. Distance education schools prefer DETC accreditation because the DETC is the oldest and most experienced distance education accrediting agency.
Q: Does it matter if I live in one state and my school operates out of another state? What about foreign universities?
A: In general, a distance learning student can enroll in an accredited distance learning program located in any state, or even in another country. You may wish to check with your State Department of Education before enrolling to be sure your state does not have any specific regulations concerning distance education. If your prospective school is located outside of the United States, be sure it is accredited by a U.S. accrediting agency, such as the DETC. Accreditation standards and practices vary from country to country, and degrees earned at a foreign university may not be equivalent to those earned at a U.S. institution. The credits required to earn specific degrees may also vary in a foreign university. If you are unsure about the approval to operate status of a foreign institution, check www.chea.org and log onto the CHEA International Directory for a country by country listing of official quality assurance agencies in each country.
Q: Will the credits I earn from a distance learning institution transfer to a college in my area?
A: That depends. If your school is accredited by a recognized agency in the United States, your college level credits should be transferable, but no one can guarantee acceptance in all cases. The decision to accept transfer of credit always lies with the receiving organization (college registrar,employer, etc.). Since there are more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States, the DETC is unable to provide a list of schools that accept credits from specific DETC institutions. When you explain that the institution is accrediting by a national or regional accrediting agency, the decision is often favorable. Surveys of DETC graduates indicate that of those students who attempt to have their academic credits accepted at regionally accredited institutions are successful 70% of the time. Q: Will my employer recognize a distance education certificate or degree?Yes. Although almost all employer require that the institution be accredited, and some require a certain type of accreditation. Distance education is a popular method of earning a certificate or degree for a promotion and career advancement without leaving your current job. Thousands of leading companies provide tuition assistance to students attending DETC institutions,including the largest employer in the USA— the Federal Government. Through the U.S. Department of Defense and the voluntary education tuition program, the federal government pays the tuition for tens of thousands of military members at DETC institutions. DETC institutions rank in the very top tier of all colleges and universities in the support given to military students. For more information on DETC and corporate learning visit www.detc.org/coporate.
Q: How do the expenses of distance learning schools compare to traditional schools?
A: Distance education institutions—DETC schools in particular—tend to be less expensive than traditional or residency schools. This is another encouraging factor for adult learners considering going back to school. The DETC recently completed a study comparing costs of college programs and found that students often pay about one half less in tuition for a similar degree program when attending a DETC school instead of a traditional institution.
Q: I am interested in homeschooling my child. Can you help me with this?
A: DETC accredits distance learning high schools that offer full high school diploma programs; several of these schools have been operating for more than a century. Receiving a diploma from a DETC-accredited high school is considered more rigorous than obtaining a G.E.D. Most college registrars and employers accept these nationally accredited diplomas the same as those from “traditional” high schools, but you may wish to check ahead of time to be sure. DETC currently accredits one school offering courses and programs for grades Kindergarten through high school.Parents can choose to buy individual courses or enroll their students in the accredited programs. Please note, however, that attending a distance learning school is vastly different from homeschooling a child. The major difference is that with a DETC accredited institution, your child will be working with licensed and qualified teachers who guide your child and evaluate their academic work. You should learn about your state’s homeschooling regulations and contact a homeschooling organization for more information.
Q: What is the future of distance education?
A: Millions of students study via distance learning every year, and this method of learning is expected to continue to increase. DETC institutions have a healthy enrollment history—over 145 million Americans have enrolled in DETC institutions since 1890. More and more students are turning to distance education today to “go back to school” without being bound to one place or by a rigid study schedule. New technology continues to support and assist distance learning students. Currently, distance learning institutions are enjoying record enrollmentrates around the world.
Posted by Frank on 10th Jul 2010 15:53
"Distance education schools prefer DETC accreditation because the DETC is the oldest and most experienced distance education accrediting agency." No they are not. The regional accreditors have been accrediting educational institutions that offered correspondence programs before the existence of DETC. "Receiving a diploma from a DETC-accredited high school is considered more rigorous than obtaining a G.E.D" - However, is it more rigorous than a regionally accredited online high school program? "Most college registrars and employers accept these nationally accredited diplomas the same as those from traditional high schools" - This is misleading and bad advice. When looking for an online high school, make sure that it has "tradition" regional accreditation. A few DETC schools operate regionally accredited online high schools. I would advice against pursuing a high school diploma that is only nationally accredited. "over 145 million Americans have enrolled in DETC institutions since 1890" - Quite misleading. DETC was established in 1926 as the national home study council. The United States recognized DETC in 1959. "The major difference is that with a DETC accredited institution, your child will be working with licensed and qualified teachers who guide your child and evaluate their academic work" - All US States offer online regionally accredited K-12 programs and courses at low or no cost to state residents residents. These courses do have instructor support. "Distance education institutionsDETC schools in particulartend to be less expensive than traditional or residency schools" - This is not true. All states offer online courses and programs at tuition for state residents. Many regionally accredited colleges and universities offer programs at comparable tuition and fees. "Will my employer recognize a distance education certificate or degree? Professional associations, such as teaching, mental health, nursing, and engineering, will require a regional accreditated degree for licensure. Teaching at a university or college will in the majority of cases require a regionally accredited degree. Holders of DETC degrees may experience difficulty in earning professional licensure. "One critical difference between regional agencies and the DETC is that the DETC specializes in accrediting distance learning institutionsthose are the only institutions DETC accredits, while regional groups primarily are focused on and accredit residential institutions" - Regional Accreditors accredit distance learning only institutions as well. There are an abundance of regionally accredited universities and colleges that offer distance learning programs.
Posted by Karla Vazquez Ruiz on 5th Nov 2009 17:37
I'm intresting in a MBA in education
I would like to know how I can get information about a MBA in education, would you please send me the information
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