I remember just a decade ago, the idea of gaining a real education through any means other than in-class lectures was laughed at. People have accepted that being talked at by a certified teacher four days a week is the only way to learn a subject properly. As a result, these other schools that allow students to earn their degrees by other means seem less credible.
Now, the mediums that were laughed at in the past are being integrated into traditional schools. Online classes are being increasingly accepted as the norm equal to that of in-class lectures, only if the class is from a brick and mortar school however. The other schools are still criticized for conducting classes in non-traditional ways. This sounds like a double-standard to me.
Many of the non-traditional schools hold the same accreditations as state run universities meaning they meet a minimum standard of education that ensures real learning is taking place. Yet “adult colleges” are still being criticized as being less than university-level education by, get this, traditional schools of higher-learning. I’m not saying there is a conspiracy here, because I don’t believe there is one, but traditional schools do have a vested interest in making their graduates sound more educated than all others.
I’m a non-traditional student that has education from a traditional school and non-traditional “adult” school. To be honest, I don’t feel that I’ve learned any more at a traditional school than at the other school. Neither of my English classes at the traditional school prepared me to write a high-quality academic paper. I was a 4.0 GPA student, but I was also being compared to many other students that still wrote at a high school level. My essays were good enough to garner an “A” in the class but I found my papers are less than par at the non-traditional school.
I agree that with some subjects traditional learning should be used. It’s difficult to properly assess a student’s knowledge of the practice of chemistry through a paper test alone. Would you trust a nurse that learned how to insert an IV through the internet? On the other side, did you know that reading certified articles and submitting a short 10-question self-test is considered continuing education in the medical field? Why is a more extensive and in-depth form of this any less acceptable in some subjects?
With subjects such as economics and government, is it absolutely necessary to have a class with four walls and a teacher to learn the subject? As I recall, I did most of my learning in these subjects, taken at a traditional school, by reading the material and studying the notes I took while reading. I usually “zoned-out” in the classroom and don’t feel that I learned anything from the teacher that my notes didn’t cover.
I believe both forms of education are valid and should be watched. There are students from both forms of education that barely passed and don’t know what they are talking about. But there are graduates from both forms that have something real to offer the world. If non-traditional schools were really doing something wrong, would traditionally schools be following suit? I think not. But alas, because of the reputation non-traditional schools have, I was compelled to attempt to finish my degree at a traditional school while supporting a household with a daughter. Believe me, deciding to take on the added stress wasn’t easy.