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Women and Online Education

"Good teaching involves enriching, not impoverishing, students’ understandings of others, and the world. It means expanding, not contradicting, students’ knowledge, insights and interests. It means deepening, not rendering more shallow, students’ ways of thinking and feeling. And it entails paying intellectual and moral attention as a teacher. "

Exploring the Moral Heart of Teaching: toward a Teacher’s Creed, David Hansen

It is difficult not to begin a discussion about woman and education without making reference to race or religion, economic status and feminism. However, feminism can mean different things to different women depending on the individual and her age. In the past, woman were socialized to tell their story as though it happened to them, but today, woman account for 57% of college students and 59% of graduate students. An impressive statistic when you realize that they are still responsible for most of the domestic tasks. However, an online degree program has much of the needed flexibility woman require so they can keep their jobs and not sacrifice family time. For woman, getting an online education makes it possible for working and stay-at-home moms to advance personally and professionally. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in a July 2009 report, Highlights of Woman’s Earnings in 2008, published the statistics growth earnings for women and revealed that women with more education, made more money.

Of the more than 3 million Americans older than 35 who are enrolled in degree granting universities, nearly one third works off campus. This is an extremely large number and deserves a response from higher education. Quite simply, the demand for online degree programs is going to continue to grow, especially as technology improves. One of online education’s biggest supporters is Bill Gates. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has set aside 20 million grant dollars to those who come up with great ideas to incorporate education and technology, specifically, distance education. Gates thinks online education is on it’s way to becoming the best method to get the best professors giving the best lectures all available to anyone via the internet. He has said that he believes getting an on campus degree will be five times less important than it is today.

For years we’ve heard the term, "global community" but never before has this been so true. Online education degree programs could have classes with student from as diverse backgrounds as Saudi Arabia or Japan. The depth and breadth of perspectives is awe inspiring. It’s fairly easy to discern that the majority of women will want to advance professionally and that will mean some conflicts with some of their responsibilities. Technology can definitely help. If you are a working mom that wants to advance her career, or you are at home full time with your kids but want to enrich herself with a master’s in medieval literature, you’re in luck. The 2009 edition of the Princeton Review Complete Book of Colleges features 149 online degree programs.

Right now, it is more prestigious to complete an online program from a brick and mortar institution that offers the same programs online. Indeed, you’re resume might not even need to mention that you’re degree was earned mostly online. However, there will always be those programs that were devised especially for the student that would benefit most and from a university that almost entirely offers online degrees like the University of Phoenix. As consumers of online education become savvier, there will be very clear methods for examining accreditation of these programs with very public reviews and information about them. One sure way is to make sure your degree is accredited by an agency recognized by the Department of Education (ope.ed.gov/accreditation).

It was nearly impossible for working woman or full-time moms to go back to school and finish a degree. An online degree is now making that possible. Distance education is an exciting development because it also shows that these woman not only have full time family responsibilities, but they also are career driven, ambitious and highly competent women. For these and other reasons, online degrees are now more widely accepted than ever. It the serious student that would choose to go back to school to get ahead in spite of all her responsibilities, and frankly, any employer would greatly benefit from an employee like this. Many companies have tuition reimbursement programs for people trying to improve their skill set. Furthermore, this is a testament to how adaptable woman as employees are at negotiating the things they need to do. In fact, this could be an aptitude in and of itself required by a niche profession but desired by most employers.

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