Associate's Degree Online as a Career Path
If you are interested in obtaining an associate's degree online, you have set for yourself a very flexible and worthwhile goal. An associate's degree is foundational. You will take composition and algebra, literature, history, languages, your choice of science, such as biology, chemistry and physics and social sciences such as psychology, sociology and philosophy. Further, once you have a solid foundation in place, you can specialize in any number of fields such as nursing, business management, journalism, pharmacy, hotel management, criminal justice, and paralegal work.
You may wonder what difference it will make if you take these background courses online or in a traditional classroom. In respect to content, the difference is negligible. In respect to the process through which the courses are delivered, the difference is significant.
Associate's Degree Online Requires Mastery of Navigation.
In an online course, there are perhaps new concepts for you to learn, not in respect to the required courses, but in respect to how the courses are delivered. You must study the platform so that you know your way around and you must know the navigation from one link to another comes automatically. For example, if this is the first time you have taken a course online, you may be surprised that there may be no textbooks. The curriculum, the lectures, the learning processes are packaged in the course. You will interact with fellow students and your instructor via a monitor. The monitor is divided into a number of panels and each panel represents some aspect of the course. For example, the first panel at the top of the monitor is Anouncements. Here the administration may have instructors to post important emergency announcements, if for example, there is a storm in an area where the college's students in that class are living. Or, the administration may wish to provide the students on class changes and schedules for the upcoming semester. The instructor will provide office hours and course requirements and plagiarism policy. Penalties for late work may also be posted. The student should develop the habit of reading the announcements every time they are online. Otherwise, they may miss some important information.
As we move down the left panel we will see links to a number of functional aspects of the course. The left margin gives us week by week readings and assignments, along with a rubric giving the point value of each factor in the assignment. The center of the screen provides the heart of the instruction. It is called DISCUSSION THREAD. Here is where the instructor will inject a prompt and invite the students to respond. The task for the instructor is to promote participation of the entire class. The students present are electronically signed in but this does not mean they are participating. Sometimes the instructor will piggyback on a contribution a student has made and then ask other students to respond to the initial answer. The responses of the students are registered on the screen and provide a running dialogue on the issue. Sometimes a student has a question either relating to the course content or navigation and she wishes to have a private meeting with the instructor. In this case, it is best to use email which is only a button away in the upper right of the monitor. Sometimes the meeting is of a litigious nature as when the student and instructor are conflicted. In this case a dean may be present and both the student and instructor may have legal counsel. This is rare, but it is all the more reason to have on hand the record of student performance. There are other reasons beside content performance that could bring about this scenario. One is directly threatening an instructor or fellow student. Another is the use of profanity or obscenity. These are also reasons for providing the student the policies and guidelines at the outset of the course. This is the sort of information that the student will find in Announcements, but it is the instructor that must make sure the students have read such announcements.
Grading for Associate's Degree Online
Most online programs have a sophisticated grading system. It is not necessary to call roll because attendance is taken electronically. When the student signs on, their attendance is registered. There are basically three types of evaluation. One is class participation, another is the submission of work completed for the week and another is the scores earned on objective tests. Sometimes it is necessary to have a conference on the student's progress and the grading set up is made for this. The system gives grades for each week and gives a breakdown of types of evaluation; for example, it shows what the student earned on objective tests, on discussion and work submitted. There is usually a group project that teaches the student how to plan and execute with other students. This is an attempt on the part of the curriculum builder to model the type of work arrangements that the student will meet in business or industry. Projects require working together.
At the bottom of the screen, one will find a panel that is devoted to insights the student has had or, one might say, that it focuses on discoveries the student has made and wishes to share with the class. For example, the student may have discovered a new way of navigation from one link to another. The system of online instruction stresses sharing knowledge and maximizing human interaction.
Associate's Degree Online, as well as Online Bachelor of Nursing, as well as Criminal Justice Online Degree Program, places importance on giving the student non-judgmental space. For example, to the left of the screen is a link to the Student Lounge. This is a place for the students to relax and exchange ideas; it is not a graded activity. Its value is in group support. Many students bond with one another and come out of the experience with new support systems.
Distance education technology is rapidly increasing the numbers of online college degree programs available to new and returning college students, and the variety of college degree that can be earned by enrolling in online college courses includes the associate degree, bachelor degree, master degree and doctorate degree. For example, it is possible to matriculate to an online business management degree or a health administration degree online from an inexpensive personal computer. The adjunct faculty member seeking online adjunct college teaching jobs will be surprised at how many online adjunct instructors are needed to teach the online classes contained in the accredited online college degree programs. The primary advantage online teaching has for the career academic is that it can be scaled up or down in terms of the number of online college classes in the online teaching schedule. The reason for this is that online bachelor degree programs and online master degree programs are located on the Internet, which mean it is possible to teach online for online degree programs thousands of miles away. By having access to multiple online adjunct jobs from a laptop computer, the online college professor can be more selective about which online college degree programs to teach for each semester.