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Does Online Education Make the Grade?

Category: 2002 Published on Wednesday, 18 March 2009
Mike Berman
Dave Berman

How many homebound individuals are benefiting from being able to take college (or even high school)-level courses online?

A casual perusal of the thousands of resources available to these people on the Internet shows how far-reaching online education can be. In fact, one provider of online courses lists 2,593 colleges and universities worldwide as subscribers to their service with more than 1,600 of them in the U.S.

The goal here is to give everyone the opportunity to take the courses they need to obtain a high school diploma or college degree. This includes working or single moms, folks that are disabled or handicapped or those of us that are mired in the day-to-day grind of just trying to make a living.

Now Webdud Dave would have you believe that a majority of people taking online courses are cheaters, slackers and otherwise delinquent because there's no way to ensure that they're the ones actually taking tests, writing papers, etc. Obviously he has never been exposed to those "cheaters" who hire people to write papers for them or heard stories about the instances of cheating in the classroom.

Obviously, we have to have faith that those individuals are in the minority and folks that are laying out their hard-earned cash to get an education actually want to benefit from the opportunity to learn online.

The capabilities of the Internet to deliver videos of classroom lectures and to act as an interface for online discussions -- using webcams and chat areas -- has made the virtual classroom a reality for those unable to obtain a degree by attending on-site classes at "brick and mortar" educational facilities.

Yup, even Doubting Dave could benefit by expanding his horizons learning online -- possibly by taking a course in education.

The Internet is everything and I'm not one to argue that.

Well, actually I am.

What is the deal with online education?

I don't understand it. Is this a joke?

It just gives people like me a way to get a degree with very little effort.

Sure they're more convenient and cheaper in many instances, but they are an insult to my intelligence and should be to whoever's taking them. I know a handful of people that take these courses to get their degrees and conveniently have their spouses or friends do the work for them. All I have to do is give my 4.0 GPA buddy my login and password and blammo! I get a 4.0 too.

Here's what these online courses need in order to gain my approval:

1) Tests should be taken at the school in front of the teacher instead of from behind a computer screen. This does happen in some cases but not all.

2) Students should meet the teacher at least once during the semester face to face and a face-to-face interview should be conducted. For all the school knows, the person taking the course could be a babbling idiot. I apologize. He or she may not babble at all.

3) There should be a way to verify that the person signing in is the person that signed up for the course. Maybe this could be done by only allowing access from a specific computer or using some sort of digital signature.

4) Online education shouldn't be as highly accredited as in-class education until it has been tried and tested through and through.

The list goes on and on.

It's premature and it annoys the heck out of me to know that there are people out there taking advantage of a system that isn't ready yet.

I give online education an F and the people that take courses online a punch in the nose!

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