Term Paper: Amy Attended the County's Administrator

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[. . .] Those who have lost jobs believe a higher degree will help them get back in the market, and those who have jobs believe a masters degree will protect them in the future. In addition as adults move through their careers they develop an interest in promotions and advances requiring master level degrees, but they do not always have the freedom to attend courses.

Many of our students are going back to school to improve themselves or for a love of learning," said Murphy. "Most come back for reasons related to their careers -- they want a promotion or a career change."

Distance learning classes have grown at an exceptional rate since 1996, when they were first offered. Currently, there are at least three million distant learners nationwide, attending one of the 54, 000 online-education offered in 1998. Forty-four percent of higher- education institutions are offering distance learning classes, up from 33% in 1995, according to NCES."

Part of the reason that distance learning for graduate programs has been slow in development is the mindset of the educational institutes that distance learning cannot fully educate the student and that they will not do as well as traditional students will do. Recent research has indicated that distance learners do as well or better than traditional in class students do. "Distance learners do as well or better in their courses than traditional students, and surprisingly, interact with the instructor more than their campus-based contemporaries, according to a study done by the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment.

We only allow highly motivated, screened students to attend distance learning classes and they generally are adults," said Gersten. "That is why we have such a high success rate."

This study is going to measure the success of a graduate program being developed for distance, or online learners. It will use a case study to perform its analysis and it will be comprehensive in nature.

Literature Study

As many college classes have found their way onto the Internet to enhance their curricula, several universities also have begun offering entire courses, and even degree programs online. Using virtual bulletin boards and email, most universities offering the new programs are gearing their efforts toward working adults who could not otherwise pursue degrees in higher education."

Recently Stanford began a masters in Engineering program that can be obtained online. The research is in and so far the program seems to be measuring some levels of success. According to the Stanford officials charged with the program the students will receive the same level of education that they would get if they attended the classes in person.

According to John Hennessy, dean of Stanford's School of Engineering, in a July announcement, "We are going to give the people in the industry the same courses as if they were on campus."

One of the differences the online program has from the in person program is the length of time required. The on campus degree program can be completed in one year while the online program requires the students to spread it over three to four years. The program offers almost identical courses according to those charged with its implementation.

Instead of attending lectures and labs like other students, they began on a self-paced track-based using materials provided through the World Wide Web. In exchange for class participation and standard office hours, students would email the professor for assistance and meet weekly with a graduate-level teaching assistant."

One distance learning institution is exclusively for distance education. The University of Phoenix is designed for adult distance learners. One of their requirements is that the students be more than 23 years old. Another requirement is that the students have full time jobs. These requirements are to insure that the students are mature enough and driven enough to complete the course work through a distance learning program.

I don't think that the online aspect affects the quality at all," said Shafer, 39. There's no schmoozing at the campus pub, of course -- but, he says, "If the student is involved on a daily basis, it actually is an effective way to develop a dialogue among people."

As the concept of distance learning for graduate students takes hold many of the nation's finest institutions are giving it a whirl. Harvard University has pondered the ability to deliver gradate course work through online classes and has decided it is worth the effort.

Harvard's foray into distance learning, which began in fall 1997 with one course taught by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences' Extension School, has grown to a collection of dozens of online courses offered at a majority of the University's 11 schools.

But before such growth leads to students earning degrees through online coursework, University President Lawrence H. Summers will establish a committee of professors to consider if the meaning of a Harvard degree depends on physical presence in Harvard's classrooms."

The Problem

Some argue that teaching adults requires different methods than those used for teaching children. Though not the first to use the term andragogy (aner-meaning "man', agogos-meaning "leading"), Malcolm Knowles popularized it by describing a new set of assumptions about adult learners, and in contrast to children and pedagogy. Self-concept, experience, readiness to learn, orientation to learning, and motivation to learn were the focus of the contrasted differences for the adult learner (Smith 2001). Knowles is not without his critics (Burge 1988).

After an extensive self-examination and analysis of feedback; and at the advent of it's online delivery of course curriculum, University of La Verne's Doctoral Program in Education Management is seeking answers to important questions. The program needs to be individualized for students; to account for what students already know and can do. The current management theme courses need to be transformed to a competency-based model, and optimized for delivery in an online environment.

Launching a graduate web-based program however presents troubles that are not evident in the lower academic classes. One of the problems with web-based learning is that there has to be a way to know the student has completed the needed objectives to achieve and have earned the class credit.

The University of Dallas Graduate School of Management (UD), located in Irving, Texas, and Pace University's School of Computer Science and Information Systems (Pace), located in New York City and White Plains, New York, have joined forces as institutional Internet partners. Pace University's School of Computer Science and Information Systems has been offering graduate degrees in computer science, information systems, and telecommunications since 1983. A variety of distance learning methods have been used during the years."

The development of a graduate online program requires criteria that will help insure that the students gain the objectives to obtain the credits as well as provide the students with a support system in case the have a problem.

One recent study determined the following as necessary criteria for a graduate level online education program:

Select as course developer an experienced classroom professor who has taught the class before;

Contract for this service separately from the teaching agreement; and Arrange for the developer to teach the course for (at least) the first time it would be offered on the Internet.

The students who utilize online graduate programs are students who are self-motivated and driven to further their education in spite of obstacles their individual lives are placing in their path. There was a recent case study involving a graduate online program that included 30 students. The program was found at that time to be successful in its delivery.

The Internet-delivered courses are intended for these audiences:

find the online mode a convenience, travel a great deal and cannot make it to weekly classes, or transfer to another city before completing their degree.

Potential students with Internet connectivity anywhere in the world. "

One model for graduate level distance learning uses the latest technology to provide the students with the most comprehensive educational courses possible. The model uses simulated lecture classes to deliver the courses required to complete the graduate requirements. The lectures are placed on a web site and the students go to the site, read the lectures and do the coursework required. The model believes it simulates a traditional classroom in enough ways that the students can do the credits and receive their graduate degree without attending the traditional classes.

Following are some criteria for a well-conducted online graduate-level seminar:

Credentialed mentors guide small groups of students. The seminar leader must have the academic qualifications necessary to anticipate group discussion, and the small-group discussion skills to guide it without chilling the free flow of thought.

Students participate with a high degree of involvement after individual interaction with course material. The difference between a graduate seminar and a dormitory bull session is that participants in the former have individually interacted with material before gathering to share opinions.

Discussions are moderated. As the mentor guides a discussion, there is an agenda: to ensure that all… [END OF PREVIEW]

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