Brick and Mortar, or Cyber School
by Christine Taylor
I wanted to go back to school, but my son was in elementary
grade and I was the PTA president. Being the spokesperson for parents at
school board meetings, scheduling events for parents and children while tending to my son's school and extra curricular activities, kept me beyond busy. Unfortunately, my husband's schedule
was unpredictable so I couldn't rely on him to babysit. I couldn't afford
a babysitter in addition to tuition, books and any additional expenses.
Then one day while discussing my dilemma with my brother, he mentioned
that some universities offer fully accredited degree programs online. It
was like the gods of higher learning heard and answered my prayers.
Attending school online was a perfect fit for me but that's not to say it
would be a sound solution for everyone who plans to go back to school.
There are huge differences (and similarities) between a brick and mortar
setting and attending a cyber university.
Getting to Know Your Classmates
There is a quote from notable french writer, Michel de Montaigne who
stated,"The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to
oneself." When I told my friends about my new venture they were somewhat
disapproving. I was warned that was much more difficult and several of
their friends tried online classes with no success. Furthermore, it would
be a very lonely quest. I would have no interaction with
teachers or classmates. Well, they were half right, it was a laborious
pursuit. Even the professors admitted that the workload far exceeded work
they gave in a brick and mortar class.
On the other hand, I felt far from being isolated. In fact, the professors
encouraged online interactions. Unlike a brick and mortar class, we
had to post a brief description about ourselves. Why we decided to take
that particular course and what we looked forward to getting from the
class were required postings. In some classes we were encouraged to post
discreet photos of ourselves. It was very interesting reading about other
people. The majority of students had similar challenges as I had. One of
the added bonuses were the opportunities to meet people from all over the
world. Yes, you can meet people from other countries in a regular
classroom setting but the chances are greater online.
High Tech for Higher Education
Nowadays, just about everyone has a notebook, tablet or some type
of device to connect to the worldwide Web. Having access to a computer
with a high speed Internet connection is an absolute must for cyber classes.
In contrast, a notebook and pen will suffice in a brick and mortar type
setting. But if you're going to take classes via your computer, you must
be comfortable installing and troubleshooting software. No, you don't have
to understand the entire technical process
but not being afraid of a computer will be a benefit.
Furthermore, cyber schools will offer technical support and will walk you
through the process if you have problems. Some cyber universities try to
resemble a brick and mortar classroom. For example, lectures may be
pre-recorded so you can actually see your professor. They may also use something similar to Skype,
where you can see your professor
and he or she can see you in real time. This would require you to have a
Web cam, (short for Web camera) speakers and a microphone - maybe some
additional software as well. Just like in a brick and mortar class, you
will need to be seated in front of your computer during thespecified