A discussion with one of my Cambridge International programme students prompted me to pen something about online academic programmes.
I was advising the student, who was apparently not doing very well, to spend more time on the student support website while at home in order to improve her performance.
Materials for both students and teachers are in a deluge on the internet, yet it is not baffling to find teachers who use outdated notes or who do not have crucial subject materials.
There are several online professional development courses and other academic support materials that teachers can benefit from.
The support and investment of Rwanda’s Government in ICTs in schools across the country is almost unprecedented yet its full purpose is yet to be actualised among many.
Knowledge is highly dynamic. Educators who continue to disseminate knowledge based on ancient teaching materials render themselves and their learners obsolete. On a very regular basis, the approaches to teaching and learning have continued to mutate.
The only way out for teachers to keep themselves abreast is to enrol into online study programmes.
Most colleges and universities have included online learning modules to their degree programmes.
There are comprehensive undergraduate and graduate programmes that allow anyone pursue degrees and professional development from remote locations.
With acknowledged online academic excellence and employer acceptance, teachers should take advantage of online programmes to upgrade their credentials.
The advantage of the programmes is that they allow enrolees to continue working while studying. No need to tussle with administrators or employers over getting study leaves.
There are some myths that have spread about online degrees. One of them is that the degrees are worthless compared to campus degrees. That’s a big lie. Today’s employers look at the quality of your training, the college you attended and your job specific skills.
In fact employers pay tuition to encourage their valued employees to update their credentials.
Another sweeping delusion about online education is that it does not have any social interaction.
False. Almost every online course requires emails, bulletin board participation or chat-room collaboration among students and faculty. Online participants build networks of student relationships that bolster life-long professional contacts as well as long-term friendships.
The misconception that online students are isolated is farfetched and does not hold any water. Online students have outstanding 24 hour access to online libraries, lecture notes, streamed video lectures and contact with mentors, tutors and instructional aides.
You will not need to be a ‘tech freak’ to use the system. Colleges create easy to use interfaces that enable all students to access enrolment, financial aid, online classes and labs.
These online classes are not cream puffs—the courses are complex and rigorous as campus based classes.
You will need to maintain a regular schedule in attending lectures and delivering papers or you will fall dismally behind. Online students have to be committed to learning.
Additionally, it is vital to assess online programmes that are interesting. Key to the assessment criteria is whether the school is accredited, online faculty is well qualified and if there is good student-faculty interaction.
The author is the Director of Studies at Nu Vision High School, Kabuga.