Are online degrees acceptable?
Adams (2008 ) in his article Understanding the Factors Limiting the Acceptability of Online Courses and Degrees examines prior research to determine whether online degrees are acceptable in the hiring practices in the business, health and academic fields.
The literature indicates that online learning is a substantial part of higher education, but not for everyone. However, successful students seem to indicate they are equally or more satisfied compared to traditional courses. Yet, some miss live instruction.
What is more, the literature indicates that “those who hold online degrees, or whose records include a significant amount of online coursework in their curriculum studies, are not judged as having qualifications that are equal to those of graduates who earn their degrees in a residential program” (p.576). Whereas, in the health field only 6% of employers are willing to hire online learners.
Other studies found the missing skills or elements with online learners for employers is classroom experience, working with professors, and having been mentored; thus they value student interaction. Also important are the institution’s accreditation and reputation for rigorous programs, and academic honesty. However, learning online had benefits such as discipline and increased technology skills.
Adams found that employers and university administrators prefer traditional degrees more. They think that having face-to-face instruction and mentoring are part of quality education.
However, it will take change in instructional design and delivery in order for institutions to increase these interactive functions online . This would mean using online systems that are less restrictive as with content management systems, increasing the technology skill level of instructors, considering new models of learning and exploring emerging technologies that are more responsive to learners.