University online attempts to create an educational experience equivalent to any classroom experience but make it available independent of constraints of time and space. While some programs provide a complete university online where you can submit assignments and exams electronically, other programs are more of a hybrid in which you may need to fulfill certain requirements on site to qualify for your degree.
The university online may attempt to deliver its services through two different channels: synchronous and asynchronous. In a synchronous setup, all enrolled students need to conform to a common timetable. Web conferencing and video conferencing are good examples of the kinds of mediums required to successfully deliver synchronous education. In asynchronous technologies, students have complete independence to set their own individual schedules since community activities are not critical to the learning process. The university online will provide a convenient repository for users to be able to access materials and the presence of chat rooms and forums will ensure that students can interact with instructors and peers on their own time. The university online will generally offer an open admissions policy. This means that anyone who furnishes evidence of a high school diploma, GED or equivalent can enroll in courses of his choice. This makes it different from applying to conventional universities where many intangibles may figure into the selectivity of the admissions process. There is also an intriguing program known as the Prior Learning Assessment in which people’s experiential learning is documented so they can be awarded equivalent academic credit.
Online universities have grown in prominence over the last few years such as the University of Phoenix which is a very popular online university. According to the latest statistics, the private, for-profit University of Phoenix has served as many as 500,000 students though reliable data on student satisfaction and degree completion rates is not available. Online education has expanded largely to serve portions of the population that are in remote locations where they don’t have access to conventional education. There are also economic advantages to the setup of an online university since curriculums can be developed once and delivered to many consumers at minimal additional cost. There are also emerging market opportunities for the university online since there are more people of retirement age than ever and there is significant interest in fulfilling academic passions by enrolling for classes through the convenient online medium. It is also possible to modify programs to adjust for changing technology using the university online. Many people enrolling in such programs are interested in developing practical and up to date skills. An online university may find it more convenient to adjust its curriculum as needed to cater to market demands. The most popular courses offered by the university online tend to be in nursing, paralegal work, education and business since all of these are relatively easy to deliver and have come to accept the value of the online degree. The university online does not exist only for profit, many established universities such as MIT and Yale provide significant courses online for the benefit of the community.