Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Brick & Mortar Wins
Do you think a name really matters when it comes to choosing an educational path? I was surprised at the sheer number of online universities as I have started down the exploratory road of returning to grad school. Could the online experience be equal to the brick & mortar university experience? The market for online courses and degrees has continued to grow in recent years in spite of an overall slowdown in the growth of Internet-related industries. It's tough to dodge the pop up window barrage of online ads touting the accredited programs that run the gamut of MBA to Public Policy to a masters of Fine Art ala basket weaving. A recent pop up for Slippery Rock University might have a different connotation on a CV for someone seeking a career in outdoor adventure. Why am I so hung up on a name? After all it's just that...Or is it. When you take into account the time, effort, and networking opportunities it sorta makes sense to question if the experience might be entirely different online vs old school. The Master of Arts in Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation by Abilene Christian University - is a faith-based, 36-hour online program that prepares you to analyze, address and manage conflict effectively and professionally. My question is: does divine intervention add to the overall experience or help gain in-depth preparation for this field. Besides a larger question looms, just how in depth can this "study" be with just 36 hours of instruction. Do you get a recommendation from some higher power that makes the short time frame more enriching? Don't think so.
Could name equate to cache? I understand the attraction of an online degree program, but wonder about the core curriculum and student body make up. The big selling point behind grad school is also a new networking group with the added ability to springboard your skill set to a new plateau.Typically graduate school is almost entirely an endeavor with a power base of business contacts waiting in the wings, at least biz school. How does peer group translate online when the student base is global? Will widely-endorsed models of "blended" online learning, which require some face-to-face interaction, become the norm, or will most courses substitute chat rooms and bulletin boards for face-to-face interaction? One could look at the business networking from an online education as a facebook extension of a CV.
Ultimately it was a tough decision for me of brick & mortar vs. On-line. So as much as I enjoy
a glass of Full-Sail micro brew on a warm summer evening, attending the same named university was a non-starter. I settled upon the brick & mortar standby Stanford. Hey- what can I say, cache goes a long way.