College students signing up for online education courses is a trend that transcends total enrollment, according to a December 2018 report published by the United States National Center for Education Statistics. The Department of Education estimates that 20.1 million students enrolled in post-secondary education during the Fall 2017 semester; this actually represents a slight drop on an annual basis, but it is interesting to note that 33 percent of these students signed up for online education courses.
Many of the 6.7 million students who made e-learning part of their university curriculum are considered to be part of the Millennial Generation cohort, but quite a few are working adults who are either returning to school or furthering their careers.
Choose an Accredited Program that Accepts Financial Aid
Not all colleges that offer e-learning programs are the same.
To make the most of your online education experience, look for these traits:
- Ensure your efforts count. Choose a fully-accredited school, such as Florida National University
- Not all colleges offer financial aid opportunities for fully online programs; this is something that FNU provides to all students who qualify.
Is Online Learning Right For Me?
Firstly, one of the benefits of an online program are costs. Obviously, with less overhead, universities can afford to offer online courses for a lower price, but with that in mind, some universities will exclude students attending through an online program from applying for scholarships and financial aid. As mentioned above, FNU allows students who are getting their degrees via distance learning to apply for scholarships and tuition incentives.
Whether distance learning is for you depends quite a lot on circumstances and personality.
Online classes may be just the solution for you if you can put a checkmark next to one ore more of these lifestyles:
- You live far from a university campus
- Your job is demanding and you spend a lot of extra in your workplace
- You love dedicating a lot of your time to your side businesses or hobbies
- Children are your priority
- Rapid, upward movement in your career is a goal
Now let’s look at personality:
- You feel comfortable doing many things on the computer: online banking, using a web browser to find answers to your questions, arranging your calendar of events, etc.
- You prize your “me time”
- Chat groups and social media is a significant component of your social life
- You can focus relatively well and get things done on a compute
In the past, working adults were more likely to get into e-learning because they were familiar with the use of computers through their work experience, but, moreover because their work-life schedules require them to seek flexible course schedules.
Now that millennials have grown up with computers and often use computer-integrated learning models in their schools, it makes sense to see them take online college courses.
Can I Try Online Learning Before I Commit?
Most FNU programs will allow flexibility: you can choose to take some classes online and others in the classroom setting on campus. Note there are two exceptions: the Nurse Leadership and Nurse Educator master’s degrees have no equivalent in-class courses and you must begin and complete them 100 percent online. If you decided to do on-campus instead, a possible option would be to consult with the department head to see you can change your master’s degree and consult the catalog and department head to see if the online classes you’ve taken count towards the in-class degree that you would like to switch to.
If you are not familiar with e-learning, the first thing you should know is that it is hardly new.
Fun Fact: e-learning is based on the concept of distance learning, which started with correspondence courses delivered by postal mail more than 150 years ago.
Here are a few more interesting milestones in the history of online education:
PLATO at the University of Illinois
Decades before the internet grew out of an American military project, the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana connected a few mainframes to create the Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations (PLATO) system so students could access course materials and access reference databases starting in 1960.
The Apple II Enters American Classrooms
Many South Florida residents are not aware of the rich computing history of the region; in the late 1970s, engineers at the IBM campus in Boca Raton were working on Project Acorn, which would later become the first personal computer (PC). Across the country in California, the late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, knew about Project Acorn and rushed to obtain a public school contract to place Apple II computers in the classroom. Jobs was successful: in 1978, he delivered 500 computers to school districts in Minnesota and it would take IBM three more years to market the PC.
The California Virtual University
By 1997, the development of graphical web browsers and residential internet gateways prompted the California Community Colleges consortium to found the California Virtual Campus, which started with a statewide course catalog and became one of the first entities to offer online college courses.
In 1998, two Cornell University graduates founded a company dedicated to developing and hosting learning platform software specifically tailored for universities. Eight years later, Blackboard was being used by 40 percent of American technical colleges, universities and virtual institutions of higher learning.
The world-renowned Blackboard platform happens to be what Florida National University uses and thus it is important for you to learn about the way it works, but here are a few other aspects of online education you should know about:
How Do Online Classes Work?
Online courses are, essentially, classroom lessons through your computer. Going online to complete your college education does not mean taking an easy route.
The flexibility of online education does not take away from the work you have to put in to complete the courses and fulfill the curriculum requirements.
You will review the same materials and will be tested on the same topics as students who enroll in the on-campus version of the course.
Online students must apply online just like any other student, meet the same entrance requirements as any student and will be tested like any other student.
Basic Personal and Technical Requirements for the FNU Online Degree Programs
Blackboard is a browser-based online education platform that can be accessed from internet-connected devices powered by Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X. Your device can be a
Note that mobile tablets are not an option.
You should be able to install and update the latest version of mainstream web browsers such as Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Safari or Opera in your system; furthermore, you should be familiar with operating the browser, connecting to the Internet and managing an email account.
Many courses will require you to use the Microsoft Office productivity software. If you have questions about these requirements, you can get in touch with one of our admissions counselors.
Navigating the Blackboard Interface
Whether you choose a fully online FNU degree program or just a few e-learning courses, you will have to complete them on Blackboard. The interface is user-friendly and intuitive; everything is point-and-click or touch-and-tap if you use a touchscreen hybrid device. Since Blackboard has been around since 1998, you may have already used this in your high school.
Within Blackboard, you will find navigation bars, menus and links to the materials, assignments and tests in very familiar formats, like you would see on any other webpage.
You will also be able to view and manage your grades directly from this interface, but this is a private area that only you and your instructor will be able to access; none of your classmates will be able to see your coursework or the assignments you complete unless the instructor designs a group activity.
Depending on the course and the way your instructor chooses to manage it, you may be expected to participate in online discussions with your classmates; this interactive feature is one of the most popular among students, particularly the Class Café where you can communicate on a social basis.
If you are familiar with online banking, for example, you will have no problems working with Blackboard. You can even review our entire Blackboard tutorial guide before you apply or enroll.
When You Are Ready for the Online College Experience
FNU offers quite a few degree programs that can be fully completed online; some popular options include Business Administration, Nursing, Psychology, and Health Services Administration.
You can even get a master’s degree online through some FNU programs. The best way to get started is to apply online; you can also contact our admissions counselors to learn more about FNU and our e-learning programs.
Earning your college degree online may be the smartest choice you make, and you are never obligated to complete your program in this fashion; you can get started with just one or two courses to become familiar with Blackboard. Some students prefer to complete some courses on campus and others online.