It’s really interesting to see the ways the personal computer and the internet have changed the face of education lately. Where once there was only one form of education that negated the need for clarification, now we have direct education and online education.
Both direct education and online education must meet the same accrediting standards and regulations, with standards and regulations developed and governed by the same entities. The only difference is the method of delivery for the educational unit.
Direct education is still the most common means of obtaining an education but even the most staid institutions of higher learning now offer many courses via the internet. One of them, MIT, even offers online classes free of charge although they do not grant credit hours toward a degree program for the free classes.
Other educational institutions offer a blend of direct education with online courses. Consider the University of Texas system, with campuses spread several hundred miles apart. It’s possible for a student attending classes in the deserts of El Paso to also “attend” classes, via the computer, that are taught on a campus just blocks away from the beach in Galveston, almost two days’ drive away.
There are, of course, pros and cons to direct education versus online education. Sometimes the differences amount to little more than convenience or personal preference. Sometimes, when the personal preference is that of a perspective employer, the direct education wins out over the online education.
It’s likely that some employers prefer to see a direct education on a resume because of trust in a well-established system such as campus and classroom settings. The online education industry has had some bad publicity over the years, too, as unaccredited entities awarded diplomas for minimal, if any, true education when a hefty fee was paid instead.
These so-called diploma mills are no longer as prevalent as they once were as traditional schools combine and embrace online education alongside their standard direct education programs.
As the computer age becomes more trusted and incorporated into everyday living even more so than it is now, online education is surely to become more common but it’s hardly likely it will ever replace entirely the personal experience of direct education.