Top Universities Increasing Online Degrees Programs to Meet Needs of over 5 Million Learners

Top Universities Increasing Online Degrees Programs to Meet Needs of over 5 Million Learners

Arizona State University is just one of many major universities that have started to increase the number of online courses they offer.  Within the next decade, ASU expects that 25% of their students will be exclusively taking virtual classes.  ASU and other schools are keeping up with their learners’ desire to take online courses. 

The Sloan Consortium, also known as Sloan-C, is an institutional and professional organization integrating online education into mainstream education.   The consortium is committed to quality online education.  The Arizona Republic reported, “According to an annual Sloan Survey of Online Learning at 2,500 colleges and universities, 29 percent of students took at least one course online in fall 2009, up from nearly 12 percent in fall 2003.”

In a recent webinar I created and delivered for Sloan-C, there was strong interest by educators to learn how to deliver effective online courses. There is no mistaking the popularity of online education. Even Bill Gates praised online learning in his 2010 Annual Letter stating, “A lot of people, including me, think this is the next place where the internet will surprise people in how it can improve things.” According to a recent survey by the Sloan Consortium, more than 5.6 million students took an online class last fall, which translates to about 30 percent of college students.

The days of thinking that online education is somehow inferior is changing.  Arizona’s three main universities are all embracing online learning.  ASU is ramping up their online program. University of Arizona (U of A) has nearly 30 degree programs exclusively available online; many of these programs are graduate-level.  Northern Arizona University (NAU) has 63 exclusively online programs and anticipates a 10% growth increase per year.

Arizona universities are not the only major universities to get on board with online education. Some other very prominent universities that also offer online courses include:   

If you or someone you know is considering taking an online class, it is important to understand the terminology, the process and the tricks to being successful as an independent learner.  For help, check out:  The Online Student’s User Manual:  Everything You Need to Know to be a Successful Online Student

How Online Learning Compares to Traditional . . . Continuing the Debate

The New York Times recently reported, “An analysis of 99 studies by the federal Department of Education concluded last year that online instruction, on average, was more effective than face-to-face learning by a modest amount.”

However, in this same article, they noted that not all results have shown this to be true.  Mark Rush of the University of Florida’s researched students who watched lectures online vs. traditional students who attended regular live in person lectures. Their study showed more online students let the lectures pile up and got behind.  To find out more about this study, check out the New York Times Article.  

While I find this to be an interesting study, almost none of the online classes I teach include recorded lectures.  Therefore I don’t find this data to be representative of the online experience that I have witnessed in my over 5 years of teaching for many different online universities.

Although many people find the lecture experience a big part of education, not everyone finds this to be the most effective way to learn.  When I attended a traditional college, I personally did not enjoy having to sit through long lectures.  Perhaps that is why I was drawn to online learning later. 

I am more inclined to look at the 99 studies from the Federal Department of Education than one study that looks specifically at how well students keep up with watching lectures in determining the effectiveness of online learning. I personally think that people are drawn to the type of education that fits their needs.  For those that enjoy long lectures, traditional universities may be the best optino for them. For those who don’t, online has a lot to offer.

For those considering taking an online education, check out:  The Online Student’s User Manual:  Everything You Need to Know to be a Succcessful Online Student.

Recommended Articles:

How Employers View an Online Education

Online Schools using Skype, Tinychat, Video Conferencing, Wiki and Other Technology

How are Online Degrees Perceived

How Employers View an Online Education

In the book The Online Student’s User Manual, I wrote quite a bit about online universities, their perception by employers and how they compare to traditional universities. Check out the following article from elearners.com that gives some interesting statistics about employer’s perception of online education, also see my previous posting about some of these results by clicking here.

How do employers view online degrees?

How do potential employers view online courses and degrees? How are job candidates viewed based on their academic credentials, online or traditional? Under what circumstances are online degrees viewed as a “non-issue” or an asset for job applicants?

These were some of the questions posed in Hiring Practices and Attitudes: Traditional vs. Online Degree Credentials, research undertaken by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and commissioned by eLearners.com, a web resource of EducationDynamics, which connects prospective students with online degrees. And as with a number of similar studies undertaken over the past ten years, the results reflect an interesting and transitioning set of assumptions among hiring managers about the value of online degrees and degree-holders.

See the key findings as an infographic!

To read the rest of the article click here:  elearners.com

Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant, Stuff You Should Know Guys, Discuss Dr. Diane Hamilton’s Book

I am a huge fan of Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant who do a podcast called Stuff You Should Know from HowStuffWorks.com.  On a recent podcast, they mentioned my book, The Online Student’s User Manual.  For those of you who have read my book, you may have noticed they wrote a nice review that I included on the back where they stated:

“Here’s something you should know—Dr. Hamilton has provided the most comprehensive ‘soup to nuts’ book about online education on the planet. It’s a real hand-holder to get you started, guide you to a degree and beyond into the workforce.”  Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant  “Stuff You Should Know” Podcast

I try to listen to all of their podcasts. They recently did an excellent one about octupuses (and yes, that is one way you can say it according to their report).  I recommend listening to all of their podcasts though.  They are extremely informative as well as fun and creative.  You can hear the mention of my book at the 34:34  mark on one of their recent podcasts by clicking here.

To find out more about why Josh and Chuck’s podcast is so awesome, click here.

Online Schools Using Skype, Tinychat, Video Conferencing, Wiki and Other Technologies

Recently one of the universities where I work sent me an email stating that they require that I have a Skype account.  I was curious to see if other schools were using Skype and did a little research.  I found an article which I found interesting from informationtechnologyschools.com.  In the article, they mention 10 ways to use Skype in the online classroom:

  1. Videoconferencing
  2. Tutoring
  3. Live Lectures
  4. Guest Lectures
  5. Global Projects
  6. Student Presentations
  7. Classroom Discussions
  8. Announcements
  9. Oral Examinations
  10. Virtual Field Trips

For the complete article, click here.

I can see that Skype would be extremely useful in synchronous classrooms.  Click here for another article about online learning using Skype from collegefinder.org.  I like that they are finding new and unusual technology uses for the classroom. Click here for an excellent article on 100 inspiring ways to use social media in the classroom from onlineuniversities.com.

I’ve seen that some schools are using TinychatPBworks.com claims, “Tinychat delivers dead simple video conferences without the extraneous ad-ons and inconvenience, making video conferencing an accessible, uncomplicated experience. It works on Windows, Mac and Linux; with Firefox, IE, Safari, and Chrome; and there is a version available for iPhones. You can have up to twelve people in a room with HQ video, protected by passwords and moderators, share your desktop with them, and your conferences can be recorded and embedded on your website.”  – Check out this tutorial on how to use Tinychat by clicking here.

When it comes to video conferencing, though, one of the advantages I see for online learning is that it can be completed in asynchronous format.  In other words, users can log on at any time of the day and not at a specific time.  As an instructor, I find this to be extremely helpful to me.  I do my best thinking at around 5:00 am and I doubt my students would want to log on for a lecture at that time.

Asynchronous video is still an excellent option for online courses. It may not have the interactive abilities that programs like Skype have, but it may also avoid some of the confusion and problems that come with understanding the technology as well.  There is also the blended learning option that some schools embrace.  Some schools have parts of the classes offered synchronously and parts asynchronously. 

There are tools for both types of learning.  There are advantages and disadvantages with both.  Chronical.com stated the following about synchronous online tools, “If using the “same time, different place” model of communication, some common barriers to implementation of synchronous tools are cost and bandwidth—not only cost and bandwidth on your end, as the individual teacher or the institution, but also to the students. This is especially true with conferencing systems; video/web conferencing requires equipment to deliver but also to receive. Although the benefits of real-time video conferencing are clear—it’s as near to a physical classroom environment as you can get—the software, hardware, and bandwidth necessary on both sides can be more cost-prohibitive than actually physically attending a class.”

That same article addressed asynchronous online tools, giving the following examples of technology that can be used in this asynchronous online setting:

  • Discussion boards: whether integrated into your online learning environment or not (such as Google Groups), well-managed discussion boards can produce incredibly rich conversations about topics at hand.
  • Blogs: my personal favorite, as not only are the students discussing with one another (and the instructor), but they’re learning something about writing for a wider audience whomay or may not be listening in.  The open nature of blogs also allows for communication between students in other classes at other institutions who are studying the same topics.  You might have to make “comments on blogs” count for a grade in order for some students to do it, but such is the nature of  the beast—those students probably wouldn’t talk in class, either.
  • Social Networking Site:  Facebook and Twitter can play important roles in your asynchronous communications strategy.  Facebook pages for a class can be the destination for up-to-date information about the course, without your students having to friend you (or even one another).  Twitter, and Twitter lists, can be useful sites of asynchronous discussion, although not in the threaded format that one is used to seeing in a discussion board setting.
  • E-mail/Listservs:  Some people consider mailing lists to be quaint relics of a previous technological age, but it’s hard to argue with the fact that they still work: an e-mail based discussion list does afford one the ability to carry on threaded discussions in a private environment, yet outside the confines of a managed system (for discussion boards).  In fact Google Groups (referenced above) is a threaded discussion board that can also take place via e-mail, putting a different twist on the typical concept of the listserv.

I personally often use my blog in my online classrooms.  I teach many courses where students are researching specific topics such as entrepreneurship, leadership, marketing, etc.  By adding links to my blog where I have written about many of these topics, it helps add content to the discussions.  I have not had students create their own blog as the above author mentions, although I like the idea, but I have taught classes using a wiki.

For those of you not familiar with what a wiki is, think of Wikipedia.  That is the ultimate wiki where information can be added to a site by multiple sources.  When classes are taught on a wiki, it is a bit more complicated as students need to write some code-like information.  It worked out well in the school where I taught it, because it was a technology-based school where students had more technology training.  One advantage of a wiki is for group-based projects.  In the course I taught, students were able to work together on one big project where they could all enter information onto the wiki.  The problem with any group project, wiki-based or not, is that you still have those students who do not participate as much as others.   

As with any technology, there will always be some obstacles to overcome.  However, I embrace technology and look forward to the next new product that helps increase student involvement and retention. For more information about online learning, check out my book:  The Online Student User’s Manual.

How Are Online Degrees Perceived?

I often get into Linkedin group discussions about the pros and cons of online learning.  I address it in depth in my book, The Online Student’s User Manual.  I thought eLearners.com had a pretty good article about the acceptance of online degrees.  To read the entire article click here.

 

In that article, hiring managers were asked how they felt about strictly online learning environments.  It was close to 50/50 in terms of whether they felt it was favorable or not.  The acceptance got better with the schools that had both regular classes and online classes offered. 

I have taken both traditional and online courses.  I personally prefer online learning.  I think it will become more and more the norm.  I feel I learned more and had a much better experience in my online business classes because I was not forced to be in as many group-related activities.  In my traditional university experience, I witnessed a lot of business majors getting their bachelor degree based on being in groups where they contributed nothing and got A’s because the rest of the group did the work. 

I think a lot of people are slow to accept technology because it is a big change. However, online learning is here and it is growing.  I work for many online universities where I see very strict guidelines enforced.  I have people monitoring my classes constantly.  I get feedback and direction to be sure I am staying on track and offering only the highest in quality education. 

Perhaps a lot of the perception is due to the profit or non-profit status of schools.  I think a lot is name recognition.  Big-named schools like Harvard now offer online courses.  To find out more about that program, click here. I think as more schools like Harvard add distance education, it will only improve the perception of online education.

Top 10 Free Online Courses

Teaching Online Courses – Top 10 Free Courses  from GetEducated.com

via Teaching Online Courses – Top 10 Free Courses | GetEducated.com.

Check out this article to find some great resources for online instructors including sites to teach best practices, developing course content, designing classes, tips on distance education, step-by-step training videos, links to sites like MERLOT which has vast resources for online instructors and of course a link to Sloan-C.

Student Success Secrets Revealed by Author Whose Book is Required Reading at Arizona University

Dr. Diane Hamilton’s new book, The Online Student’s User Manual: Everything You Need to Know to be a Successful Online Student, may be geared toward the online learner, but instructors and online professionals can also learn from her advice. To find out tips and insight regarding how to help online students succeed, Dr. Hamilton will be conducting a webinar for the Sloan Consortium on October 27, 2010. This is an excellent opportunity to find out why online universities have tapped into Dr. Hamilton’s expertise to help their students succeed. Author and professor, Dr. Diane Hamilton’s (https://drdianehamilton.com/), new book will be required reading for all new online students at an Arizona university and is being considered as an addition at several other universities. To find out more about how to help online students excel, educators can access the webinar through Sloan’s website and students can obtain the book in paperback and digital formats through Amazon.

Help for online students and online professors.

Quote start“As a former online learner myself and online professor for more than a decade, I can say this is by far the best book I have read on becoming a successful online learner. I WILL recommend this book to my learners.” Quote endDr. Dani Babb Author and Professor

Tempe, AZ (PRWEB) September 7, 2010

The Online Student’s User Manual had been published less than two weeks by the time a well-respected Arizona technical university sought to include it as required reading for all of their new online learners.

Some of the things the new online student will learn from Dr. Hamilton’s book include:

*computer and software requirements
*how to use the search engines and upload assignments
*how to organize and manage your time
*how to track and schedule your assignments
*how to communicate effectively with your professors and fellow students
*how to maximize your grade
*what mistakes to avoid
*how to create measurable goals and stay motivated
*how to prepare for tests…and so much more.

Dr. Hamilton currently works as an online professor for 6 different universities. She has taken her experiences and incorporated them into her book to help online learners succeed. Now she is taking it one step further, as she shares her expertise with other online professionals. Dr. Hamilton will be conducting a Student Success Strategies Webinar for The Sloan-Consortium, Sloan-C, on October 27, 2010 at 2:00 pm EST. Sloan-C is an institutional and professional organization that integrates online education into mainstream education For more information go to SloanConsortium.org or click here.

Online professors who attend this webinar will learn ways to improve their students’ skills in the following areas:

*Navigation
*Terminology
*Academic Honesty
*Goal Setting
*Time Management
*Motivation
*Increasing Retention
*Understanding Learning Preferences
*Writing and Formatting
*Test Preparation Techniques

About the Author

Diane Hamilton currently teaches bachelor-, master-, and doctoral-level courses. Along with her teaching experience, she has a Doctorate Degree in Business Management and more than twenty-five years of business and management-related experience. To find out more about her writing or to schedule an interview, visit her website at https://drdianehamilton.com or her blog at http://drdianehamilton.wordpress.com/. Review copies are available.

The Online Student’s User Manual is available in paperback and digital formats–August, 2010 ($14.95/ Amazon). ISBN: 0982742800/9780982742808 Approximately –184 pages

 

Associate Professor Writes Book for Online Students

Story by Trevor GreenUAT.edu

Advances in computer technology have made education available to students far removed from a traditional classroom, with universities of all sizes instructing learners digitally – never physically interacting with their teachers. For many students, the trappings of online classes – writing papers, using course shells, submitting work – is a foreign concept that can impede academic progress.

UAT-Online Associate Professor Dr. Diane Hamilton, a longtime online instructor, recently published the book The Online Student’s User Manual to help them succeed. She was compelled to write the paperback after finding a lack of works covering frequently asked questions of first-time online learners.

“The books out there, they’re good about telling you, ‘online’s good.’ They’re good about telling you, ‘you need accredited,’ or what the other choices are or how to get financing, but they don’t tell you what you’re supposed to do,” she said.

She added: “I kept answering the same questions over and over and over, and I thought, ‘Well, how about writing a book that explains it?'”

(To learn more about Dr. Hamilton and her book, The Online Student’s User Manual, check click here.)

Hamilton develops curriculum and teaches classes like Ethics in Technology and Foresight Development for UAT-Online. Possessing a Ph.D. in business administration and career experience in corporate training, entrepreneurship and realty, she melds her years of business and technology knowledge to computer-savvy students.

With content on everything from rubrics and syllabi to essay formatting, Hamilton sees her work as a good aid for online pupils and instructors of various ages, skill levels, disciplines and educational backgrounds.

“I think the book’s a good resource, not just for new students but for people who have been in it for awhile, or even professors to know how to teach people how to do these things.”

A self-professed techie, Hamilton picked up various facets of Web 2.0 technology – including blogging and Twitter – to market the book, and she offers advice for students on her blog with tutorials using screen-recording software Camtasia and Microsoft PowerPoint. She sees the breadth of electronic tools as essential to embracing distance teaching.

“I like to embrace new technology, and I think students have to realize that [online learning] is the future.”

Taking Your First Online Class? A Professor Shares How to Succeed | My Education Blog

Even if you do much of your work online and socialize online, there may be challenges when it comes to online learning. If it’s your first online class, you’re not only facing a learning curve about the subject matter, but what it takes to do your best in an online classroom.

Dr. Diane Hamilton, author of “The Online Student’s User Manual” who teaches online courses for six universities, shares some of her tips for being a successful online college student.

Q: What technology skills should students gain before starting an online course?

A: They have to know how to upload files and how to understand the classroom and how it’s laid out (online). They’re not just opening the door and walking in. Sometimes there’s four of five different areas where they have to look for information (such as homework assignments).

Q: What can older learners who may not be as tech-savvy do to prepare?

A: I have a lot of sympathy for the older learner. There are a lot of tutorials online that are free. I have links that I always put in my classrooms, such as how to set up papers, how to set up a PowerPoint. They don’t have a good idea of how to set up documents.

Q: What are the biggest mistakes online students should avoid?

A: There’s a lot of buzz terminology that they need to know about so they don’t get into class and become overwhelmed by the terminology (words like “search engine” or “rubric”). Use basic “netiquette,” with the proper way of speaking to one another and being respectful. You can’t type in all caps because that means you’re yelling. Also, texting has been the way people communicate, but this is a formal environment and you need to write in complete sentences. Students are sometimes not using capitalization and they’re doing other things like they’re texting (instead of) being in the formal classroom.

Q: What’s an online tool for communicating with professors and peers that students should use?

A: Some of the schools set up a chat room (for the course), which is a really good thing. I also set up my own if the school doesn’t set up one. It’s like standing in the hallway talking. The bachelor students want to talk in the chat rooms, but tend to be more shy in terms of talking to the professor. I will post kind of funny YouTube things to lighten the mood to get people posting and talking to each other and to make me more approachable and make them realize I’m not a scary person. I have a Facebook page for my online students. I also have a blog. I have Twitter. I tell all my students, this is how you reach me on all those different areas.

Q: How does online learning appeal to different personalities?

A: I think that a lot of introverts really find online learning appealing for the fact that an introvert tends to think internally before speaking. They can take time to process their information and backspace and retype. With an extrovert, it’s appealing in another way. Sometimes they say, “I wish I hadn’t said that.” They have a chance to delete before posting it.

-Lori Johnston

This blog article, was written by Lori Johnston, and can be found by clicking here