All online schools and courses are not created equal. I happen to love distance learning and I work hard to provide my students with the best experience possible. As a student, I have studied under outstanding professors in the traditional classroom and online, and I’ve had horrible professors in both settings. As a faculty member, I work hard to give my students the best possible experience, regardless of the settings. I do this through personalization, engagement, and innovation, and received the James P. Etter Award in 2014 for my efforts. Many of my online students finish the class feeling as if they know me as a person, and some later become friends.
One of my few regrets is that I never went back to school for my MSN. My first degree was an ADN and I became a RN in 1975. I had a wonderful career but not in traditional nursing. I was in the right place at the right time and I took advantage of every opportunity, so the fact that my degrees were not in nursing was no problem. I have a BA, a Masters of Science in Health Policy, and a PhD in Organization and Management. I’m an Airline Transport Pilot, which is the PhD of aviation. I’ve worked hard and I’ve loved every step of the way. But I wanted the MSN.
I am a full-time faculty member at one of the best online universities. I believe in our organization and in our leadership. I have so much faith in our leadership that I am not interested in looking for another job. I’m here. I’m present. I work hard and I give it my best effort. But I wanted this additional degree. My husband said, “You have a terminal degree. Why are you doing this?” A very dear friend said the same thing. I said, “Because I’ve always wanted this and because I can.” One of my art teachers said I needed to think about being a human being and not a human doing, but I wanted it. It was a goal I had not fulfilled.
I recently completed my first course, an online 16 week course. I chose this established traditional, nonprofit university that offered a fully online option because (1) the degree is a lifelong goal of mine, (2) the specific program was not offered at my school, and (3) I’ve clearly lost my mind. The positives: (1) the admission process was easy, (2) the transfer credit process was a breeze, (3) their outstanding customer service during the entire process from student services and admissions, and finally, (4) a well-structured orientation. They really acted like I was valuable. Now for the negatives: (1) very limited involvement with the professor, (2) late grading with no feedback, (3) awkward course setup, (4) carelessness in the course setup, including typos in the grading rubric, (5) 16 weeks is way too long for this course. There were times I felt they were just pulling content out of the air to fill up space. This may be due to accreditation, but if I had designed the curriculum I could have cut the length.
Will I continue? I don’t know. I am taking a term off. I have had no quality of life, much like during my doctoral program. This is not a degree I ever plan to use so it isn’t like I need it; I’m doing this solely for the satisfaction of saying I did it and that I will have completed a 40 year goal. I have no plans to ever leave my job, because I love what I do and I have so much respect for the leadership. This goes back to something I’ve said so many time, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
But maybe I should. Or not. We’ll see. But if you are considering online education, let me know.