My early childhood education degree was earned online from Concordia University. I currently teach at the University level in early childhood.
I like the cohort model where a group moves together through an entire program and so builds a learning community of people invested in one another.
I also like accelerated learning that requires the learner to read a lot for each course but also speeds up the process of completing a degree.
I really like the online chat and discussion board because it does allow for synthesis of material in a way that can be missed in the traditional classroom where everyone does not always 'speak' or one student can take over the classroom discussion.
Asynchronous learning gives you the opportunity to really think about a reply to a discussion board question and also allows you to do the work at any time of the day or night. The discussion board is also a rich dialogue among the cohort members.
The synchronous nature of the chat builds that feeling of togetherness and community and is fast-paced. It allows the opportunity to ask the instructor questions. All in all, I think I prefer an online degree to traditional classrooms.
I would have liked some flexibility in moving in or out of the studies, but in the early childhood education degree program I was in, you began and finished within a cohort. I could not take a break at all without losing credits.
Also, sometimes the accelerated nature of the course could be problematic if ‘life’ became out of control…if you had over 200 pages to read in one week and two papers, that could be overwhelming. Each class rolled into the next one so it was of little benefit to ask for an in-progress since you would only get further behind.
Also, it was difficult to not know your instructors and to not ‘see’ their faces. I have to admit sometimes it was like having invisible instructors. It would have been nice to have some sort of interaction that helped us see each other and I know that mechanism is possible.
All in all though, I really enjoy the online process and I think it greatly enhances adult learning for many people.
It was a huge help to my career in that I was able to begin teaching as college faculty once I received my master's degree.
I have very positive things to say about online education but the program needs to have a good reputation and use quality adult education practices.
Cindy, Chaska, MN, USA, Concordia University, Early Childhood Education