With the Internet emerging as the world’s largest classroom, debate over the value of an online university education has never run hotter. The University of California hopes to develop a top-tier cyber bachelor’s degree program, while some faculty worry that doing that would diminish UC’s quality. Some schools, like the University of Massachusetts, offer some degree courses online.
Others, like the for-profit University of Phoenix, offer all degree courses online.
Katrina Howell, 18, graduated from high school in June and will study psychology this fall at the University of Phoenix. Her classroom will be her bedroom at home in Danville. She spoke recently to reporter Nanette Asimov.
Q: Will you miss campus life?
A: I’m a really shy person. For me, it’s easier to concentrate by myself instead of trying to listen to an instructor. It starts to bore me, and I don’t pay attention. Online you don’t have someone yelling at you – telling you what you’re supposed to do. It’s more your responsibility.
Q: How does it work?
A: Everything is completely online. The instructors introduce themselves, and they put questions up that you need to answer, and a whole bunch of material that you need to read. They give you due dates for assignments (acceptable) up to 11:59 p.m. They want you to log in four times a week, and do two posts about something you find interesting or have an opinion about, or reply to others’ opinions. It’s to keep everyone communicating. There’s also an online library. And they have a one-on-one thing where you can message your instructor.
Q: Will you attend the big game this year?
A: What? I don’t know about that. (Laughs) I’m not too much into sports.