By the early 1970s, medicine the concept of distance learning with computers caught the imagination of innovative educators. Early systems like Control Data’s Plato concept were exciting but primitive by today’s standards. The Internet and more efficient computers make the reality of online learning an increasingly important part of the education industry. Even more important is the fact that businesses are increasingly accepting of the concept that online training and education is a viable approach for companies and individuals. In fact, earning an online business degree is now a standard practice for many, with tuition support provided by their employers.
The trend is so pervasive that virtually every major educational institution now has online courses and degree programs. The degrees offered by places like Vista College have gained mainstream credibility as a source of meeting educational requirements for many jobs. For the time and money invested, employers recognize that online education is time and cost-effective in raising the skills and abilities of workers.
A qualified program will help students become conversant in the concepts and vocabulary of business. With increasing competence and confidence, these employee-students apply theory and insights to real-world situations for increased productivity. As these programs have gained in popularity, the offerings have become far more extensive. The distance learning and online degree programs of many institutions are extensive, providing students with virtually the same course opportunities as those available to students on campuses.
Just a sampling of the degrees and courses of study that are available to online students include:
• Business – general business, law and finance
• Technology – management information systems, networking management, database management and programming
• Management – administrative, communications, leadership and interpersonal skills
• Practical skills – training in office software suites including word processors, spreadsheets, presentation, and database.
Students that consider online education will find that the industry has matured to the point that they are also provided many of the same services and helps that are given to students on campus. This includes many financial aid and scholarship opportunities plus career guidance and placement services. Most colleges and universities are also aggressive about getting online students involved in alumni programs.
The value of this approach to learning has proven to be so significant that individuals like Bill Gates are involved in making online education even more widely available. Gates has invested more than $500 million dollars to make this form of access practical for even more students, especially for those who consider traditional higher education an unattainable goal. This makes the online education option a viable choice for both traditional students that are not yet in the workforce and the employee wanting to advance in the corporate world.
Part of the aggressive response by many universities and colleges is defensive in nature. As the cost of an advanced degree is increasingly prohibitive for many potential students, the costs of an online degree make it an attractive alternative. It is a trend that has gained such momentum that there is no turning back. An increasing number of individuals will receive degrees through online education.