Online education has grown in leaps and bounds in the last decade. However, the legitimacy of gaining an online tertiary degree has been questioned by several employers all around the world. The issue being that the trusted universities sometimes don't offer their most important courses online. What we're left with are online speciality courses that don't hold much water in the world of employment, but are encouraging to an employer, granted you have a degree from a respected university that you physically attended. However, the legitimacy of online degrees is finally beginning to become visible to high-ranking universities.
Experts agree that online education's feasibility in securing employment will be happening in the next five years. According to a report by the BBC, due to the successes of initiatives like Coursera, full degrees could make their way to the internet. Coursera offers short courses from the world's top universities, namely, MIT and Stanford. However, Daphne Koller, chief executive of Coursera says that undergraduate degrees could be happening within five years time. The platform currently has 20 million students registered and the list of universities that contribute now sits at 145 universities.
"Will it be fully online? Or will it have some residential components? That remains to be seen," Loller said. "It's the perception we need to break, it's not the technology that's been the barrier."
In the upcoming years, we will see more and more online degrees being announced by several different institutions. Recently, the Engineering Institute of Technology announced that they had been given the green-light to host four engineering degrees that can be studied online. The institution will be providing three-year BSc (Bachelor of Science) programs in: Mechanical, Electrical, Industrial Automation and Civil/Structural Engineering.
"They've got some enormous opportunities [for students]. They're online, we have a dedicated learning coordinator, highly experienced instructors as characteristic ingredients of this program," said the Dean of Engineering at the Engineering Institute of Technology, Steve Mackay. "The idea is that if you've done an advanced diploma or a diploma you will get some credits towards the BSc."
Mackay says the BSc will allow you to practice as a technologist, which you can then take further and study a masters degree to become a full-blown engineer. He also says that after a lot of work the institution was able to get the degrees accredited and are looking forward to seeing student enrollments from Australia and the 130 other countries they offer the degrees to.
For further inquiries into the Bachelor of Science programs you can check out the institution's website: EIT
Koller says that time-consuming campus-based degrees do not leave room for the improvement of qualifications and that online studies are the only way. She says: "Many working adults have obligations, they have a job, a family, a mortgage, they can't go back to school."
Charles Muwandagara, an engineer who is currently working on power stations across Africa, recently graduated with his advanced diploma in mechanical engineering from the Engineering Insitute of Technology (EIT). When asked about his diploma and whether he felt it was a necessary addition to his skillset through online education, he said: "It was very practical. To run a project you need those basic skills."
Online education is rapidly progressing. Most interestingly, engineering higher education seems to be progressing faster than some might have estimated. Soon, technologies such as Coursera and EdX and more will be offering full-blown degrees and giving more people access to the best education for their buck. And who knows, maybe even free education to those in need.
Source: BBC / Engineering Insitute of Technology