Secondary Education

Just how many people are choosing online education these days may surprise you. The Babson Survey Research Group’s found in their 2015 “Survey of Online Learning, Online Report Card: Tracking Online Education in the United States,” the total number of students enrolled exclusively in online programs is 2.8 million!  

Even more interesting is how hybrid education seems to be growing.  At the same time administrator belief that online learning is vital to long-term success declined from 71 to 63 percent.

The most significant difference between an online and on-campus program is delivery.  Other frequent comparisons include convenience, flexibility, and affordability.  According to the Learning House, Inc. students choose online learning close to home, because of the cost, the speed of admission, and the flexibility.

Though cost is cited as the online advantage, this article by U.S. News and World Report shows it’s not always the case.  Also, adding travel, housing, and food into costs can be quite complicated and varies considerably from person to person.

Without getting bogged down in statistics and the hope to prevent this becoming a research paper, we believe that online education remains strong and offers both advantages and disadvantages that are very context-sensitive.

Online delivery is carried out at home, a coffee shop, the library, or anywhere with wifi. The learning may be asynchronous or synchronous. Asynchronous is ultimately flexible as it means you take classes at the pace you prefer through the internet, message boards, and emails.

It should be noted, however, that schools usually have limits on the number of years you can stay in a program. Synchronous learning is time-dependent and involves online live chat with your cohort or teacher or participation in video-conferencing.

It is important to know that a great variety exists from program to program and school to school. Some offer both forms of online learning, others only one. Besides, some “online” programs do require on-campus visits that should be noted. Often these on-campus visits are for practical and experiential learning through seminars or weekend visits.

On-campus degrees deliver a person-to-person experience with faculty and other students. The fact remains that the value of face-to-face communication comes from deep in our nature.  Isn’t 90 percent of communication non-verbal?  These sometimes non-quantifiable or measurable differences may make all the difference.

As for special education curriculum, online and on-campus degrees offer the same courses, though you should take note that most education degrees will require some amount of student teaching.  Because of this, it is technically not possible to complete the entire degree from home; you will have to work with local school districts and the college for placement and mentor teachers.

Coordinating long-distance student teaching practicums may be more difficult from a distance, and an online delivery of this program may not give you as much faculty mentoring opportunities as an on-campus degree.

In conclusion, there are many outstanding choices to consider.  When comparing only our 25 Best Bachelor’s in Special Education of 2017 ranking, which is on-campus degrees, and the Top 20 Online Bachelor’s in Special Education for 2017, you will find many of the same schools such as University of Georgia, East Carolina University, and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

In the end, beauty, in terms of the attractiveness of the program, is in the eye of the beholder.


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