The Global Online Education Issue

Degrees and educational qualifications are required by all nations to ensure a skilled workforce. The cost of education has skyrocketed worldwide. The quality of education has taken all sorts of directions in view of the cost factor. One of the definite advantages brought about by the Internet is the availability of education online. Anything online potentially has the advantages of speed of delivery and immediate round-the-clock access from the convenience of one’s own home country, or home for that matter. If this did not translate to lower costs internationally without compromising the quality  and acceptance typically attributed to traditional degrees, then we have a global issue with global perspectives to be solved.

University Degree AwardCredit: By Rabe! at de.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

The Speed of Education

Everything seems to be delivered with speed nowadays-products, services, even our acquaintances. The key issue is that online educational qualifications must be provided globally in an effective manner. Of course, there is an option to provide online education locally as with many universities in the USA. To some extent, the requirements of regional accreditation have much ground already covered. Nevertheless, this still goes against the spirit of the Internet which can deliver almost any other product or service internationally. Why not provide online education across borders if it meets the requirements? Quality education provided cost-effectively across borders will only improve world economy. The online degree model should follow e-Learning which is fast gaining ground as a mode of corporate training in the working world. Corporate e-Learning practices can partly be adapted for providing reliable online degree programs. In addressing the issue of online degrees attainment as a global or international concern let’s take a look at all the factors online students must go through to make their decisions.

What Are The Factors Determining The Value And Validity Of A Globally Recognized Online Degree?

1)      The online institution itself should have global recognition

This does not however of itself validate your degree but provides the early grounds for it.

2)      The degree or qualification offered should have the necessary accreditation for it to have global validity and significance

Furthermore, it should be acknowledged by the main disciplinary bodies in the respective fields where this is relevant, both locally and overseas.

If you were to travel overseas just for the purpose of getting a degree, you would be wise enough to choose a university or institute that was recognized in your home country. Otherwise, despite the huge investment, you may be left jobless for years on your return.

Hence it is up to the potential students to do their homework to exhaustively research the accreditation paths taken by their so called online institution. Information can also be obtained from the organizations that provided the accreditation. Accreditation bodies worldwide are either appointed by the respective governments-a government agency-or are independent private organizations as in the USA.  Also to be avoided are accreditation mills.

3)      The degree program has to be highly cost effective

This goes without saying. If this were not the case, it would seem that whatever cost-savings that the online education provider obtains is being offset by an overhyped, overcharged scheme. If dubious costs are still being passed on to the student in a disguised manner, this ultimately fails the purpose of a degree supplied online. 

4)      The degree program must be very flexible

Genuine flexibility is required to enable a larger sector of the population to seek higher education. One has to be cautious not to fall into degree mill traps that often require little work or time on the pretext of being ‘flexible’.

5)      Foreign companies, corporations(local and multinational), organizations including the civil service as well as employment agencies in respective countries should be able to recognize the qualification you will receive even if they had stringent criteria

This is a key requirement. Each country could potentially have an online database of recognized online educational institutions worldwide that the people can reliably use. The aspiring online student would then use the information and criteria as a safeguard for the smooth passage of his or her education.

6)      The teaching staff or faculty on the course offered should be well qualified

It needs to be known beforehand who is appointed to deliver the courses online and what are their specific skills, experience and expertise apart from their formal qualification. Also important is which professional bodies have recognized them as well as their contributions in the field if any.

7)      Advisory, Interaction and Format

Scrutinizing the course content and manner of delivery includes the above three key components. There should be sufficient recourse for the student to seek advice on pertinent matters regarding the course. This should be throughout the duration of the course. Allowing interaction with all levels of staff and at times with staff not directly involved with the online program for institutions which have both schemes is a good indicator. Again it needs to be ascertained whether the format of delivery and assessment includes audio, video, oral, written and other methods. Some require occasional personal attendance, the ease of doing which differs significantly between local and international online degree programs.  

8)      On-Campus portion

Some courses are fully online whereas others may be a hybrid anywhere between requiring compulsory, regular on-campus involvement to an occasional campus meeting. Still others may have a flexi-approach allowing much freedom on the part of the student within regulatory limitations. The nature of the courses will also determine this to a large extent as with some technical courses. It is important for international students to decide exactly what their “non-online” level of involvement can be so as not to commit inadvertently to an unrealistic requirement. There may be advance payment issues that one may not be able to retract from.

At Home With Your Degree

There is no stopping the wave of online degree enrolment in the global arena. Just as we seek faster modes of communication, there is a similar argument towards not spending any more time or money than necessary to get a valid piece of qualification that will ensure a good working life for us. Being aware of what exactly is available out there makes you a winner at the end of the day, with a degree in hand.