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Online Education



Online education is not just for college students. In this article we review online education options for home school, high school students, college students, and continuing education, as well as online education for professional development.

In the twenty-first century, online education takes many forms. This article explores some of the possibilities.

Online Education and Home School Students

Online education allows home school students to access courses and do coursework that are not available to them in the context of their home. Offerings include grade-level curriculum for Pre-kindergarten through grade 12, as well as college-level opportunities for high school students (see the next section for more on this). Several of the online education offerings for home school are explicitly Christian. These opportunities can be used either as a complete curriculum or to supplement in-home teaching.

If you are considering going this route, do two things first:

  1. Look for options offered by an accredited institution (and check to make sure the accrediting institution is legitimate as well).
  2. Consult your state department of education to make sure that whatever options you are considering will meet state requirements.

Online Education and High School Students

Online education provides opportunities for high school students to enroll in college courses and receive college credit before their high school graduation. This is particularly useful for students whose interests lie outside the range of normal high school courses, such as foreign languages not typically taught in high school, as well as for students who have exhausted the high school curriculum in a particular area, often mathematics.

Some, such as the Education Program for Gifted Youth at Stanford University, offer courses to high schoolers among others, with a range of levels from kindergarten to advanced undergraduate. The online instruction is supported by phone, email and virtual classroom contact.

The Extended Campus program at Oregon State is more focused on high school students, allowing them to earn college credit in areas such as mathematics, forestry, and Arabic. North Carolina’s Learn & Earn Online program provides qualified high school students enrolled in public school to simultaneously earn college and high school credit at no charge. Other options, including those from companies that do not have a traditional school campus, but simply specialize in online learning, such as Apex Learning, are also available. In any case, you should check credentials carefully.

Online Education and College Students

Many colleges and universities offer regular 3-credit courses online during the academic year, as well as providing summer courses with an online option. College students can choose a mix of face-to-face instruction and online courses, or complete an entire degree through distance learning, in some cases. However, before planning to complete a degree entirely at a distance, it is well to speak to a college guidance counselor, so one knows exactly what kinds of interaction and experiences one might be missing while foregoing the interaction of a regular classroom.

Online Education and Continuing Education

Continuing Education generally includes learning that happens after the achievement of a bachelor’s degree, outside of a degree program, and isn’t involved with the language of the country you live in. You can see, therefore, that this could cover a wide range of interests including:

  • avocations, such as photography or gardening
  • health and nutrition
  • a wide array of writing courses
  • studio arts
  • financial matters
  • hobbies
  • etc.

Continuing education courses online are offered through a variety of providers: community colleges, park and recreation departments, colleges and universities, and directly through distance learning providers. Any of these providers may offer materials that have been prepared especially for them, or may host materials from another provider, such as ed2go, which has an international network of participating schools through which its material is offered.

Online Education and Professional Development

Busy professionals need more courses, too. University of Vermont, for example, offers more than 80 online courses including a full six-course Educational Technology sequence that can contribute to a Masters Degree in Education. In general, however, it is probably more likely when considering institutions with a campus, to find that the bulk of online courses are limited to  introductory courses up to level 200 (or the school’s equivalent) online, with upper level courses offered face-to-face.

Written by Mary Elizabeth

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