© Sean MacEntee
Former Silicon Valley CEO Ben Nelson, who has run the Snapfish photo-sharing website and the Redbeacon home-maintenance site, said this week that he had landed $25 million in seed money for an audacious new venture: creating an elite global university online from scratch.
He is not alone; several other high-profile educational entrepreneurs have launched innovative ventures this year in hopes of harnessing the Internet to provide online degrees and upend the ivory towers. At a time of immense concern in the United States about the soaring cost of college — and growing doubts about how much students actually learn on campus — the ventures are attracting considerable interest from students, investors and education experts.
Many long-standing online colleges mimic the structure, and sometimes approach the cost, of traditional universities. But some have high dropout and low graduation rates, and employers do not always value their degrees.
Online branches of state schools and other brick-and-mortar universities tend to have more credibility in the marketplace, but may offer only a few degree programs.
Colleges offering online degrees are getting accreditation awarded to them from various recognized associations. It is important to get your online degrees from an institute that is accredited as the online degrees are only then recognised by other institutes and industry.
There are hundreds of institutes offering online degrees and it would make sense to do your research not only on the accreditation but also on the fee structure, as these can vary tremendously.
A list of the top ten online universities show the number of different disciplines and courses that are available for a student to earn an online degree.
© Ed Yourdon
Drexel University's School of Education is a highly ranked graduate program, and their online university degrees are regionally accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
The school has been offering online education programs since 1996, and is ranked among "America's Best Graduate Schools 2011" by US News and World Report, in addition to being a member of the Sloan Consortium. Their online degree options include teacher certification programs and other courses that integrate current research on teaching and expose teachers to the latest developments in pedagogy and instructional technology. Some of the degree programs also offer a free Apple video iPod to all new students. Their website lists the curriculum for each graduate certification program. These certification curriculum are fully integrated into the Master's degree, but each program may also be completed as a stand-alone certification.
© Identity Photogr@phy
The University of Kansas want to expand its online university degree offerings, but not before the institution does a thorough analysis of its distance learning program to gauge the value it is providing to students. The program has been in place for several years now, allowing students to receive credits using the same materials and instruction offered in the classroom.
The courses cost the same as traditional classes, plus an added fee that is used to fund the program. Some school officials believe that the program is in need of reorganization and expansion, so the college has organized a task force to come up with recommendations to improve it. One aspect that has worked well is the monetary stipend and instruction design support that the school gives to professors who contribute to the online programs. This has helped the college to expand its distance learning options and creates greater participation by the faculty.