Bringing Schools to the Students - A Novel Learning Style
Online education has been around for quite some time but advances have been exponential. History
In spring of 1993 Dr. E. L. “Skip” Knox, Professor of History at Boise State University, taught the first completely virtual, fully accredited course from a major accredited university.
“Electric Renaissance" shortly followed by “Western Civilization History” HY101 & HY 102 along with “Italian Renaissance History” HY 309 and “The Crusades” became a staple for the liberal arts requirements for undergraduate students attending Boise State.
Almost simultaneously, but completely independent, Dr. Charles D. “Charlie” Hurt, former Dean of the School of Information Resources and Library Science at the University of Arizona and current Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at University of Wisconsin at River Falls taught the first graduate level completely virtual, fully accredited course from a major accredited university LIS 605.
These pioneers began teaching in the days when www meant nothing to the average person and html programming required a great deal of software knowledge as stated in Dr. Knox’s paper.
The early days of Skip and Charlie have advanced beyond even their initial estimations. Dr. Knox said: “The conclusions apply best to a fully virtual asynchronous course in the humanities.” But today his model has been revised and added to literally hundreds of Universities around the world that now have entered this alternative form of education. From prestigious Universities like Harvard University’s online course in “Neurobiology” to Oxford University’s “New Economic Powers” course the genie is out of the bottle. But not simply in the “humanities” as initially understood, the gamut now runs the complete field of studies.
The University of Illinois, State University of New York, Notre Dame and MIT all offer engineering and math courses on line. The University of Kentucky, Notre Dame and University of Pennsylvania offer science courses ranging from physics, chemistry to biology and astronomy on line.
But not only courses are offered on line but also complete degree programs. Eighteen of the State University of New York’s campuses offer complete degree programs starting at the Associate Degree to Bachelors Degree and ultimately the Masters Degree level.
Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey has 12 undergraduate programs along with 4 graduate programs and along with the University of Delaware offers the only accredited Medical, Nursing and Dental programs online. Thomas Jefferson School of Law was the first fully accredited Law School, accredited by the American Bar Association and the American Association of Law Schools, to go completely virtual. California School of Law, also fully virtual, is accredited by the ABA, AALS and The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Capella University, Northcentral University and the University of Florida offer PhD programs in Psychology, Marketing and Pharmacy.
The institutions of higher learning above are but a very small sample of the available accredited education on the web. If the past is an indicator of the future then how can we imagine to what extent education will change? Would we pay for dissertation help online? When today's young high school student can continue his or her education through to the PhD level virtually online; children of the future may ask “what was a classroom?"