Those interested in computer careers can take computer-related courses online. When deciding whether an online program is for you, consider the following criteria:
Is the school properly accredited? For a degree to be worth the time, effort, and money you expend to obtain it, the learning institution must be accredited by a respected accreditation agency.
Are the courses detailed enough? Ask for sample syllabi, textbook names, and other information to determine whether the course work will give you an in-depth understanding of the material.
How are the courses administered? Often, the better programs are characterized by real-time chat, social media communication (such as Facebook), video conferencing with professors and other students, blogs, simulations, and other adjuncts to textbook material and exams. You should also find out if you can learn at your own pace, and if there are deadlines and schedules to adhere to.
Will I be good at distance learning? People have different learning styles. For some, distance learning works well; for others, it poses problems. Distance learning requires you to be able to manage your own time, set your own goals, and take responsibility for meeting deadlines. Expect to spend at least 8 to 12 hours per week for every 4-credit-hour class you take. People who prefer personal interaction, both with professors and other students, may feel isolated in a distance learning program.
What are the advantages of an online program? Assuming you have a computer at home, you don’t have to travel to take classes. With the rising cost of fuel, this can save you significant money. Also, you can take classes from a school that may not be near you but that offers the perfect program for you.
What are the disadvantages? Besides the learning style differences already mentioned, online learning also is limited in the amount of feedback you receive from professors. It also doesn’t usually involve much oral communication skill development.
What schools are available? Every state has many online-learning opportunities for those interested in computer careers, and there are several very good online-only learning institutions. The following (alphabetical) list is merely a sampling of the schools you can investigate further.
- DeVry University (http://www.devry.edu/degree-programs/college-engineering-information-sciences/college-engineering-information-sciences.jsp)
- ITT Technical Institute (http://www.itt-techonline.edu/)
- Lincoln College Online (http://www.lincolncollegeonline-usa.com/)
- University of Illinois Department of Computer Science Online (http://cs.illinois.edu/online)
- University of Phoenix (http://www.phoenix.edu/)