Nicholls State University was recently listed as on of the top 25 affordable online programs. Online education has radically changed the landscape of education. We’re learning in a new and more efficient environment, one with endless opportunities for students of every kind. The virtual learning environment (VLE) is innovation that is replacing an office-building’s worth of administrators, teaching assistants, file cabinets, and paperwork. VLE such as Blackboard, Canvas, and Renweb extend both the classroom and the administrator’s office. Automatically handling teaching and administrative duties such as gradebooks, auto-scoring, attendance sheets, enrollment, updating class lists, auto-sending emails for absent students, notifying people of unpaid bills, and tracking payroll and accounting information.
Along with the convenience and efficiency, online learning is moving more toward heavy use of mastery learning which requires students to master a concept or skill before moving ahead. Instead of treating a 60 or 70 as a “passing grade,” students have to demonstrate mastery in that topic by answering all or almost all of the questions correctly.
Our own Nicholls State University has been ranked one of the top 25 Most Affordable Online Business Bachelor’s Degrees by College Choice (CollegeChoice.net) which is an online resource that aims to help students and their families as they research and compare colleges to find one that fits their interests and needs based on its research and analysis.
Nicholls earned the 25th spot out of 30 and is one of four to make the list from Louisiana. College Choice analyzes several factors to come up with their list including the cost of the degree, the value of the degree and the convenience of the degree. Nicholls charges no out-of-state fees to distance learners and “there are no set login times for online classes; it’s important for students to be independent and self-motivated.”
Students say that Nicholls does a great job of incorporating Project Based Learning (PBL) despite the challenges that online education present. Online PBL programs cover all the main learning outcomes while also training students to share and organize responsibilities. Students would be responsible for tasks such as: giving peer review, working in teams, engaging in self-directed learning, breaking down projects into smaller parts, and solving complex problems. To be successful, online ed students must stay plugged in to the process and will need to learn how to communicate with peers and be a good team player. A great deal of your online education success in a PBL setting depends on your ability to work with other students.
PBL helps to avoid the isolation that many online ed students face in poorly-designed programs. It’s easy for online ed students to drift through their studies as strangers who never truly engage one another. Fortunately, Nicholls has made great strides to implement collaborative online learning strategies to confront this challenge.
In online education, collaborative learning is carried out by various programs and platforms to allow for video conferencing, texting, email, teleconferencing, and workflow programs. Chances are, you will use these programs and skills later on in your professional life as well. Students claim feeling much more prepared for their careers after being trained in an online degree.
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