The Distance Learner

Advice on earning a college degree through distance education

NCHE Workshop Handout

I printed several dozen copies of my extended handout for the NCHE workshop on Friday night, but due to very high interest in the topic I ran out. I’ve created a printable PDF version of the handout (47K) for those who didn’t get a copy. Enjoy!

Off to Winston-Salem

We’re off to Winston-Salem for the convention tomorrow. I’ll have sporadic access to the Internet while I’m there so posts after the workshop may not be as frequent as I’d prefer, but be assured that they will pick up later next week. If you’re visiting for the first time after attending the workshop, welcome!

Please Welcome David!

Folks, please welcome my brother, David, to the blog. He’ll be contributing posts about distance education from the perspective of someone who is currently doing it. David is studying journalism via distance education at both Liberty University and Fayetteville Technical Community College. He is sure to have some interesting things to share about the experience!

The Online Learning Trend Is Exploding

The Washington Post ran a feature story this week about how the shift towards distance education, especially Internet-based education, is rapidly accelerating. If we thought distance education was becoming popular in the late 90s, we haven’t seen anything yet.

It’s predicted that by 2008, one in 10 college students will be enrolled in an Internet-based education program. The interesting thing is that this statistic only covers online coursework. It doesn’t take into account mail and video-based distance education programs which account for an even greater number of students.

Why the rapid increase? There are probably a number of factors involved:

  • The employment market is becoming increasingly competitive. Jobs are getting harder to secure straight out of college, making it even more vital that fresh graduates have real-world experience to go along with their degree.
  • Colleges offering distance education are hitting their stride in terms of course content and delivery. They have had 10 years to improve their Internet-based offerings, and this improvement is beginning to show.
  • Federal law is easing back its restrictions on distance education as people are beginning to recognize that, far from being an inferior way to earn a degree, it actually makes an incredible amount of fiscal and academic sense.

There is a reason why the University of Phoenix, a regionally accredited college offering full degrees through distance education, is now the largest private university in the United States. (Its enrollment jumped 20 percent in fiscal 2006.) People are recognizing distance education as a compelling alternative to traditional college, and they are making the switch.

Read the full story: Online Degree Programs Take Off

Distance Education Workshop at This Year’s NCHE Convention

Welcome to my new distance education blog!

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be giving a workshop on distance education at this year’s NCHE conference. (NCHE stands for North Carolinians for Home Education; my brother and I were both home schooled K-12 and were members of the group at one point.)

The workshop is titled “Distance Education: An Alternative to Traditional College.” In it, I’ll be sharing the story of my own experience earning a four-year degree in Computer Science via distance education. I’ll also be sharing the many benefits distance education offers over traditional college, as well as providing some pragmatic steps that parents and high schoolers can take to find a good distance education program and succeed in it.

My reason for creating this blog is two-fold. First, I want to let you, my readers, know about the conference in case some of you might want to attend. For a description of the workshop and more information about the conference, visit the conference web page.

Second, and most importantly, I plan on sharing the URL of this blog during the workshop so folks can visit, ask any follow-up questions they might have, and possibly even use a discussion board (I’m considering adding one to this site). I’ll be continuing to post about distance education and its role in today’s economy over the next few months for those who are interested in the topic.

If anyone has any immediate questions or comments, feel free to post a comment here. I’d also enjoy hearing from you if you plan on attending any workshops at this year’s conference.