Monday, May 14, 2007

Initial Expectations

One of the claims that drew me to the online environment of distance education was that you can work at your own pace. This statement is somewhat misleading, though. I was led to believe that I could start a class and take as much time as I needed. The reality is that the classes do have set timeframes with starting and ending dates.

The high side is that you do have the ability to adjust your schedule so you can do the work when you have time. You do not have to commute to class to be present in an actual classroom. When you do your work is entirely up to you if the environment is asynchronous. If your program is synchronous you will need to participate in activities, such as lectures, at specific times. Either way you still save the commuting time.

Some distance learning programs permit students to take as much time as necessary to complete a program. Most of these programs are correspondence type courses where students correspond using the postal service.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

I am in the act of migrating this blog over to my own domain. The url for the new location is

Blogger will redirect requests to that address when I have completed the migration. If you have bookmarked Journey Into Online Education you may wish to change your bookmark and any links you have saved when the redirects begin.

This is taking a little more effort than I had hoped. Therefore, my posts will be somewhat lacking until this task is complete.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Alternative Search Engines

One of the problems I experienced when researching topics online is the way some of the most well known search engines present the results of a search. In this day of E-Business on the web, many companies are buying their way to the top of results pages produced by some search engines. The implication is that instead of finding the information on a requested topic, the results page produces commercial sites promoting products classified by the key words entered for the search.

Do not become too frustrated; however, all that advertisement on the web helps maintain the accessibility of information for everyone. You just need to look for alternative sources. Listed here are 10 alternative sources to help you on your way:


Noodle Tools is a site that you can use to help search specific directories by the type of information you are looking for. You can scan down the site and find a castigatory for the information, for instance “science and technology”. You will then see a number of links to search engines that may produce the best results.

The Library Spot links library resources in a convenient location and may provide useful resources for research. This is also a good site to browse for enjoyment.

Finally, one excellent resource to use to locate other alternative search engines is About: Web Search. This site presents a listing of 100 search engines and categories for search engines.

You should have little difficulty locating information online using these resources. This is just a small sampling of what is available.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Contingency Plans

Murphy's Law states that if something can go wrong, it probably will. When computers are a part of your life, you should plan for the unexpected and avoid neglect.

Online educational programs require access to a computer. Students should make prior arrangements to continue their work after disaster strikes. I once experienced the adversity of a system board major meltdown on the day a final assignment was due. I was able to revive the system in a couple of hours by replacing the system board with a spare that I had on hand. This situation would have been much worse for someone lacking the ability to repair a PC.

Most facilitators of online classes will classify the excuse that your system was down somewhere in the relm of "my dog ate it." Make sure you know how you will deal with the situation before the necessity arrives. Some suggestions are to gain authorization to use a PC at work or make arrangements with a family member or neighbor. You may also check with your local branch of the public library. Note, however, that some institutions have minimum system requirements and there may be some settup necessary. This may pose challenging if you try to line up a PC to borrow.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


(EMD, 2007). Comparing online universities with traditional schools. EMD Newsletter

Monday, May 7, 2007

CLEP Tests

One way to shorten the length of your program and reduce your tuition casts is by successfully taking CLEP tests. The College Board, which is the controlling authority for the tests, maintains test scores for a period of 10 years from the date of completion, so these tests can be taken before of after you gain admittance to a program. Check with your institution for their specific policy regarding CLEP tests.

I passed three CLEP tests which reduced my program requirements by 15 credit hours. This was equivalent to five classes in the program I pursued. The specific tests that I took were the Social Sciences and History, Natural Sciences, and American Literature tests. These tests are each worth six semester credit hours but I only needed three credits in science so my total was 15. The credits from the tests showed up as transfer credits on my transcript.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Financing Your Education

The best time to finance your education is long before you even enroll in a college or university. However for many of us this simply is not possible. So how do determine what options are available?

First, check with the financial aid office at the institution where you plan to enroll. The counselors are well versed in the various programs available to help undergraduate and graduate students alike. You may qualify for grants, scholarships, and student loans. A good way to start is by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You file the application and will receive determination about the types and amounts of aid you are entitled to, if any. The most common types of financial aid are PELL grants and Federally Insured Student Loans. These loans may be subsidized by the government to cover interest charges while you are enrolled in a degree or certificate program.

There are also specialized grants available for students who meet certain grade and income requirements. The one that I am most familiar with is the National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) grant. I received this grant and did not even know that the grant existed. The SMART program is for students with a GPA of 3.0 or above who are enrolled in certain technical programs deemed critical to national security.

For students who do not qualify for financial aid, private loans may be an option. These are educational loans available from financial institutions like banks and credit unions. You will need a good credit rating, however, to receive a private loan.

The most overlooked means to aid in financing an education are probably scholarships. There are literally thousands of different scholarships available and many of them go unclaimed every year. The funds can range from a few hundred dollars to enough to cover your entire program and living expenses. There are online resources to assist in searching for scholarships. FastWeb is a company that lists many of these scholarships and will send notifications to your email. Banks sometimes offer scholarships and many times they make no awards because of a lack of applicants.

How To Use This Blog

This web log will be a continual work-in progress about the various facets of pursuing an online education. Many different topics will be covered and I will try to post about at least one topic per day. Sometimes, however, I may go back an edit previous posts that I deem are not as complete as I would like.

Posts that I feel are relevant to the subject matter will be added to the Contents page, so if you are looking to this web log for tips or advice, that would be a good resource to check.

Feel free to look here as often as you like and to post comments or suggestions on the topics I include.

Friends of Journey Into Online Education

Dumbledore appreciates all the help received to promote Journey into Online Education and the author would like to help contribute to the continued success of the following websites:

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

I graduated on the 31st of March of 2007 and am at a point now where I must decide what to do next. I would like to teach in a university, so I believe that I will now need to go after a master’s degree. I will continue in the Information Technology disciplines because an MBA does not really appeal to me. My decision is should I specialize in security, web development, or software engineering.

The answer to that question will determine which of the three universities I am looking at will be the best suited for my goals. My choices now are Capella, Virginia Technical College, or Colorado Technical University. I should make my application soon so I can start in the fall term. I should not have a problem gaining admittance into any of them because I graduated with honors.

Do online degree programs really measure up to their traditional four-year counterparts?

“Do online degree programs really measure up to their traditional four-year counterparts? All evidence seems to indicate that the answer is ‘Yes.’” (EMD, 2007).

An online education offers students several advantages over traditional institutions. Online students do not experience the headaches of fighting traffic to commute to school like they would if attending a traditional institution. Combine this with the ability to set their own schedule and online students can easily save an hour or more in commuting time per class day. Another advantage for out-of-state online students is that most online institutions charge the same tuition for in state and out-of-state students.

In terms of educational quality, most accredited online universities offer courses and degree programs that are equal to those offered by four-year universities and colleges. Studies show that for most students, distance learning is just as effective as traditional in-class learning. In his book, The No-Significant-Difference Phenomenon, Thomas L. Russell, cites over 300 research reports that found no significant difference between in-class and distance learning. (EMD, 2007).

In terms of time and cost of education, online universities have the advantage. It normally takes four years for most students to earn their degree at a traditional university or college. Students of online universities can earn their degrees in far less time (average 2-3 years). And earning a degree at a traditional university or college may cost tens of thousands of dollars. Online degrees can be earned for a lot less money, and online schools offer the same financial aid options that are available to students of traditional schools. (EMD, 2007).

Before you enroll, make sure that the university or college you are considering is accredited. Many of the well-known online universities offer programs that are overseen by the same accredited standards as their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Watch out for diploma-mills and check a source like to find information on the specific institution before you apply.


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Reading Assignments

Students learn most of the material in an online environment by reading tests, lectures, articles, and supplemental materials. Reading and understanding these assignments is crucial to program success. Depending on the scope, some classes will require more reading than others.

Accelerated classes like those at the University of Phoenix, which are only five weeks long, may require reading from one to five chapters from various textbooks along with a couple articles from relative trade journals in any given week. Along with the course material, students must read the posts from other students as a requirement for participation. Class lectures are in written form and there may be preparatory materials assigned by the professor.

When taken as a whole, all this reading combined with other assignments can be a bit overwhelming. Good time-management skills are necessary. Break the reading down into manageable chunks, like one chapter a day and you will survive.

Programs with longer class-lengths, like a full quarter, should have a lighter workload where reading assignments are concerned.