New Orleans area universities began to embrace the trend after Hurricane Katrina displaced the area’s population.
“People, obviously, could take them at a distance,” says Mark Rosa, Professor of Business at Tulane University. “You don’t have to be in the area, physically. You can partake in the classes from afar.”
Rosa says he wasn’t always a fan, preferring a more traditional ‘brick and mortar’ education.
“I pushed back on it,” he says. “I felt like the traditional classroom was an environment in which people would learn more…ask questions, engage in dialogue and discussions that would benefit everyone in the room. And, if you were on some online platform, you wouldn’t get that interaction with your colleagues.”
But, he says technology has solved that problem. “Where people do meet in groups, in a virtual space. They do have live, active discussions They do ask questions. They do interface with the faculty. They are getting back that interaction that, personally, I thought was very valuable. Many of the ‘better programs’ have adopted those techniques and it’s working.”
But, he cautions…”You have universities with various standards, and some are better than others.”
“The reputation of the university continues,” says Rosa. “So, if the university was one that was accredited, was a good university…the product, whether it be in class or not in class…I think that would continue.”
“From an accreditation standpoint, the courses are heavily tested and I believe the universities will keep that accreditation if the online programs are done properly. It’s up to them to keep that standard high, of course. And, the ones that I’ve seen were putting a lot of energy and resources into it…making sure that the quality remains.”
He says online degrees are no longer something to laugh at.
“You’re going to see more of it,” Rosa says. “And I think the employers are going to understand that they do have value, they’re going to be accepted and that’s the trend that’s happening. You’re going to see more of that in the future rather than less of that.”
He has some reservations, however.
“I still think that some courses are very difficult to accomplish online. The College of Engineering, sometimes, will have an online course. I wouldn’t want to take it. I’d rather be in the classroom for that, sitting there and really absorbing it.”