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"Education on the Web" 
  10/01/2001

Newsgroups have long been used as a means to educate oneself on the intricacies of a combustion engine or perhaps asking questions to fellow software developers on how to accomplish a certain task in C++. A quick search would allow you to find everything from making apple pie to studying animals at the zoo. The educational possibilities are nearly endless. Now, as the Internet is becoming a popular place for online learning and many trying to complete their degrees online, newsgroups might help you from making a mistake as to the type of institution you trust with your time and money.

There are circumstances (although I cannot think of a legitimate one), where an individual would be interested in obtaining a degree without actually putting in the time and effort. For those individuals, an unaccredited degree from what is commonly referred to as a diploma mill is probably enough. They can hang it on their wall and be proud of it. However, for individuals looking at using the degree in the workforce, they would most likely need something accredited regionally (RA) in the US (or a foreign equivalent) or, at a minimum, the Distance Education and Training Counsel (DETC).

The biggest factor in distance or online education has long centered on accreditation or lack thereof. Unfortunately, asking if a school is accredited is often not enough. There are hundreds of less than honorable colleges and universities that claim their accreditation from unrecognized accrediting agencies. A quick search will yield you hundreds of schools that claim to be "a leading Internet university and a premier global institution of higher learning, committed to excellence in global education. A university without walls that offers prestigious and accredited degrees with credit for lifetime experience. You have probably already earned your degree with your lifetime of experiences but just don't know it. We are a legal, degree granting school, authorized by the state of XYZ and are completely accredited by "

While the above statement of accreditation could be true, you would probably be best served to research the school to find out. It can be an arduous task to research the schools on your own so that you know about their past history and the amount of acceptance the school has in the world of academia. This is where the newgroups come in. There are several groups that are linked to this article which provide a good question and answer session for individuals looking at a particular school or generally interested in learning online. Additionally, there are several destinations on the Internet that can provide some help including the following:

  • Dr. John Bear's degree.net: this site is highly recommended and was
    created by an expert in the field. He has also written several books that would be
    helpful to potential learners.

  • Or degreeinfo.com: a widely used discussion board with very helpful questions and answers you can browse.

It's worth mentioning that there are universities which are unaccredited that are legitimate and actually very good at providing an honest educational opportunity. However, they are few and far between, and tracking them down could be a big challenge. If you are serious about earning a degree online, you should take the time to read the newsgroups, visit the above web sites and even purchase a book before you embark on your journey.

 - by Clayton Crooks

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  Related Newsgroups:
 
  alt.education.distance
  bit.listserv.edtech
  soc.college.financial-aid