Is DL really as good as B&M?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by MichaelOliver, Mar 5, 2010.

  1. I too agree with you, allowing one caveat. Many who appear to be setting up these straw men are not doing so intentionally with the sole purpose of knocking them down (I'm included in that group). Many are speaking from their personal experiences at B&M schools. You can't argue with that; they experienced what they experienced. The big mistake we all need to avoid is in making broad generalizations about an institution as a whole, DL or B&M, based on those subjective experiences.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2010
  2. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    The idea is, "I like online classes because they don't have exams, professors are very cool so they understand me being late and hardly give me anything below B and I can complete my degree faster" but then I wonder why industry won't accept them.

    Things being equal, the way of earning the degree wouldn't matter but it seems that some schools deliver online degrees differently as this is what industry questions.
  3. I can certainly understand that. I wish we could weed those kinds of DL schools out because they damage the reputation of all DL schools. I am fortunate not to have attended any of those.
  4. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    The best educational experience that I've encountered was full-time, on-campus, at a selective university. I probably learned as much from my very-bright and inquisitive fellow students, inside and outside class, as from the professors. One of the fondest memories of my life is our intense discussions that sometimes went on late into the night. My relationship with my professors was deeper as well, since I actually became personal friends with some of them. It all contributes to the overall effect.

    That's not to say that DL is worthless or anything like that. It might not even be significantly worse, particularly when studying by DL gives students the opportunity to actually be employed in the field they are studying while they are studying it. That's full-immersion too, just of a different and perhaps more realistic sort. It's too bad that we rarely talk about what part-time students are busy doing while they study by DL, since that's an important variable. Employers are certainly going to be looking at it and it might be the deciding factor between their favoring and rejecting a particular DL graduate.
  5. Your point about "full-immersion" is very enlightening. The fact that many DL students are working in the very industry they are studying might be just as beneficial, maybe more so, than the interactions at a B&M school.
  6. Wow, what a great experience! I wish I could have had that when I attended CSULB, UCI or even OCC. (I left all three schools) I just didn't have the opportunity to interact like that; maybe others did, I don't know. I think that is one of the reasons I left the MBA program at CSULB, people just took the classes and disapeared. Not even the instructors were willing to talk; everyone just fufilled the requirement and split.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 7, 2010
  7. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    Is it your belief that all DL classes are run this way?
  8. ITJD

    ITJD Guest

    Some feedback from someone that's taken classes at a variety of schools and has degrees from a pure B&M program and a pure DL program. (and is now in a hybrid program.) I have a bit of extra thought here as the wife is an adjunct at a career school, did her time at Boston University and is constantly drawing comparisons between her experiences and theirs.

    1. DL is equal to B&M within the context of the tiers of schools you're talking about. UoP is not equal to Harvard, but it's probably very comparable in quality to any community college or tier 3 state school. Purely talking about curriculum and opportunity to learn based on syllabus etc.

    2. In terms of my experiences at Northeastern, WGU and UMass:

    a. Northeastern was "harder" than WGU, but the reasons why it was harder have nothing to do with the curriculum or the work, it had to do with managing relationships, the registrar, the professors and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life over 8 years.

    b. WGU was "harder" than Northeastern, but the reason why it was harder had nothing to do with the curriculum. It had to do with dealing with the graders, the commutes to testing centers and working in a dissertation model with my mentor as opposed to taking formal courses in classrooms.

    I think I learned more from WGU, but I accomplished more with Northeastern in terms of long term benefit. I use what I learned from WGU every day to make a living, but nothing is going to ever trump getting published as an undergrad at Northeastern. It's a comparison of apples to oranges.

    One major difference has already been touched upon. It's not uncommon for students at higher-tiered B&M schools (especially as grad students) to develop solid bonds and friendships with their cohorts and professors. A summer barbecue at the prof's house or a weekly discussion group at the same is not rare. This is almost completely unheard of or impossible in the age of adjuncts and online schools.

    c. In terms of UMass, I specifically wanted a program that was distance, but one that I could take a course on campus from time to time. I'd done school both ways, disliked both for differing reasons, and needed to find a medium. I've taken about a fourth of my program in person to date. It's a really nice option and there's a real chance that I'll get a couple of decent recommendations should I decide to move to doctoral work. (Though I've got a Marketing course right now that's kicking my ass.)

    Jumping to close up here:

    Opinion: I think that as much as we "love" the fully distance degree model, the "best" model is the mostly distance with residency model. You might get the benefits of both that way. However, developing the relationships with the faculty is a huge factor in favor of B&M and the better the school the wider the gap. (see point 1)


    1. No one cares where I got my degrees from in the real world.

    2. Not one HR rep has cared to ask how I got my degrees. Once I had a name on the resume that they knew was a B&M school, the degree at WGU was a "wow, you actually completed something without teachers.. how did that work." and not a "Oh, you went there."

    (The above point should be taken in context. I'm not looking for jobs on Bloomberg or working in elite circles.)

    3. The reason why there's a divide between B&M and Online is partly because the learning modality hasn't been around for as long as conventional classroom and mostly because people are interested in arguing about the differences. Things will pan out.

    4. Last, and this has been said a lot around here. There is no reason to go to a for-profit purely online school anymore. There are so many options that will serve you better (at least in the short term, and I'd bet on the long run).

  9. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    No, but there are schools that run them this way and this is what gives DL bad reputation in the US. As I said, British and Australians have right, they follow the same paradigm for distance as their face to face so in these countries nobody cares how the degree was earned as distance students need to pass the same exams and do the same work as face to face students.
    The issue is that in the US it seems that some schools seem to change the paradigm for distance and offer courses with no exams, shorter periods, etc and for this reason the bad reputation.
  10. But a job can.

    Honestly, I wonder if this is something that can REALLY be taught. In the end, some people will be reliable and some won't. Some will learn sooner or later and some never will. It will not be based upon whether or not one goes to college. Rather, the opposite may be true. That one who can not "be where they are supposed to be at an appointed time, and to be there on time" might not even bother with college.
  11. bazonkers

    bazonkers New Member

    Why? You just argued in the same post that "No one cares where I got my degrees from in the real world" and "Not one HR rep has cared to ask how I got my degrees". If that is true then no one will care if your degree is from a for-profit or not.
  12. Agreed; a flake is a flake. I'm speaking of students who possess the work ethic and the potential for responsible behavior, they just need the opportunity to develop their character. That's why I don't encourage my daughter, who is a college student, to even think about DL, even though I love it for myself.
  13. Price maybe?
  14. bazonkers

    bazonkers New Member

    My MA in History from AMU (a for-profit) will cost around $11,000. I don't think I could do it for cheaper anywhere else.
  15. I think you are right. Except maybe at a state school like our local CSULB; it's less than that, I think, although I'm not sure about that. I know my MBA (that I bailed on) from there was going to cost less, but that was several years ago. But I'm with you on this, I can't think of any other reason to avoid DL.
  16. Glor1295

    Glor1295 New Member

    There is no instant benefit to a degree for military personnel. There are only two actual benefits for military personnel with a degree - they meet one of the basic requirements to attend officer candidate school and it can look favorably for promotion. They must still have favorable recommendations to attend officer candidate school and, as the school title suggests, they are only candidates and must complete the requirements of the school. For promotion the degree is not a primary qualifier - that is, if person A has a PhD in physics and a nobel prize but lacks the necessary time spent in a leadership position but person B has the necessary time, person B is getting promoted ahead of person A. DL Degrees do the same thing in the military as they do in the private sector - they give you the opportunity to compete for a higher position but are not a guarantee.
  17. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    But B&M schools also offer courses with no exams. I did not see this often with LD courses but it was common with UD and graduate courses at all the B&M schools I attended. Probably around 50% did not have exams or had take home exams (which I believe are akin to homework) while the rest had closed book exams.
    All my UK courses were each strictly graded on one end-of-term closed book exam.
  18. Arch23

    Arch23 New Member

    A cheater is a cheater is a cheater - it's irrelevant whether it's B&M or online. And anyone, whether it's a government employee or not, who wants to abuse any weakness in a system will do it (there are so many ways to abuse the system, any system)- it's irrelevant that it's B&M or online.
  19. aldrin

    aldrin New Member

    I look forward to seeing statistics or reading studies backing up this claim.
  20. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    I don't believe that's always accurate.

    The British and Australians sometimes conduct their DL programs very entrepeneurially, as if DL programs were profit-centers for their universities. That's particularly the case when they are being marketed abroad to foreign students. Of course American universities often do similar things. Many DL programs offered by American public and private non-profit universities seem to have been created to tap new markets and produce revenue for cash-strapped institutions. So there's little difference in that regard.

    Turning to instructional 'paradigms', don't forget that it was the University of London that pioneered the concept of awarding DL students undergraduate degrees totally by examination, back in the 19'th century. They simply eliminated professors, laboratories and teaching entirely. I think that they would admit themselves that this is a minimalist DL model. Reading a textbook by yourself five thousand miles away certainly isn't the same educational experience that you would enjoy in the classrooms and laboratories at University College London.

    Turning to the postgraduate 'research degree' end of the spectrum, here's the QAA's Code of Practice on postgraduate research degree programs:

    See section 5 in particular. It begins --

    5 Institutions will only accept research students into an environment that provides support for doing and learning about research and where high quality research is occurring.

    It goes on to talk about appropriate and supportive environments for high quality research in some detail. There's talk about research groups and embedding, about an intellectual community of faculty, staff and postgraduates, about suitable supervision, peer support networks and facilities.

    So it doesn't look like 'research doctorates' are intended to be isolated 'lone-ranger' experiences at all, though that's what they can very easily become when British universities translate them into the distance learning format.

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