Studying teaching online is not for everyone. There are several factors you should consider when deciding whether to pursue your education online or in a more traditional physical setting.
One of the biggest draws of an online education in any field is the amount of flexibility that it allows. Courses will rarely, if ever, have specific times that you need to be available. Instead, assignments are usually due at certain time each week – every Sunday evening, for example – and you can complete and submit them at any time up to that point. Discussions are usually conducted through online forums, which are more versatile than chat rooms. This lets you maintain commitments that would pose difficulties for an on-campus student, such as raising a family.
Because you can complete your coursework according to your own schedule, many students keep their jobs while studying. If you work during the day you can study at night; if you work at night you can study in the day. While many students benefit from financial aid, the extra income from a full-time job can only help in making a college education a viable option.
Many students also find that they can study more efficiently at home. There is no travel time, so you can devote more time to studying. There are also fewer distractions. Many schools make a wide array of electronic resources available to their online students, meaning that you can in theory access all of your required school supplies, materials, and resources from one room.
Online programs do have drawbacks, though. One disadvantage is that education is a people-oriented field, and most teachers work in physical classrooms. While online students do spend some time working as student teachers, they miss out on the chance to observe firsthand the methods and habits of their own teachers. Students also lack face-to-face communication and discussion with their peers. While online institutions use their communication resources as effectively as they can, there is a marked difference between online and in-person discussion.
The need for practical classroom experience is perhaps the biggest drawback of an online teaching degree. The amount of support for student teachers can vary, and it can be difficult being the only student teacher from a program in a given school.
To earn an online degree, you must be very self-motivated. The flexibility of studying online can be a wonderful advantage, but it requires serious organization and motivation on the part of the student. Professors are unable to remind students each day to stay on top of their assignments, and the workload can quickly get out of control.
And Now it’s up to You…
As with any major life decision, picking the right school and degree program requires research. There are many online schools that do not have accreditation, and there are many that are little more than scams. It is up to you to make sure that your money is going towards a worthwhile education. Employers these days recognize that an online education is valid preparation for a career, but only if it comes from a properly certified institution.