An Introduction to Online Learning and Web Based Education

Since the 1990s the rise of the internet has brought everything online, including learning. Elementary schools are using the internet for more interactive learning; many middle schools require students to take a computer course. High schools have started allowing students to take courses online in order to fulfill their graduation requirements. Whiz kids might even find that they are able to dual enroll and take college courses online while earning their high school diploma

College and universities are no exception, if anything they set the precedent for the online learning movement. According to the Babson Survey Research Group and the College Board’s 2011 Survey of Online Learning more than 6 million higher education students were enrolled in at least one online course during fall 2010. Approximately 31% of students were taking an online course; in the past ten years this number has tripled

Unsurprisingly the majority of these online school students were computer and information science students with business students following closely behind

Students are not the only ones taking advantage of online learning. Research has also found that 67% of professors believe that technology such as podcasts, video, and blogs are important learning tools. The use of technology in schools is abundant as students begin to use tablets to take notes, eBooks instead of traditional textbooks, and communicate virtually with their peers.

Why Online?

There are many reasons why students choose online learning, the most common reason is convenience. Being able to take a course at home makes it much easier for many people who may not have access to transportation, are working full-time, or simply have a busy schedule to start earning their degree at an online school. Cost is another factor as transportation costs to and from campus is cut down, as is the possibility of needing to pay for childcare or losing hours at work. Many students who find themselves at a traditional college and university also take advantage of online courses which may give them the opportunity to pursue extracurricular activities or work part-time.

Is It For Everyone?

What some adults fear with online learning is that they are not “tech-savvy”. The majority of online courses use platforms such as Blackboard or Moodle to engage with their students. In some cases teachers may step it up a notch and use video conferencing to lecture. Many guides are available to teach new students how to use the software and oftentimes the professor is one of the best resources for getting to know the platform being used. You don’t have to be Bill Gates to navigate through an online learning course. Again, what attracts most students to online learning is the convenience so the “everyday person” can log-on and earn their degree rather than sit in a classroom amongst young adults

Some students who may be wary of completing certain courses online will also find that hybrid courses are another option. With hybrid courses students will find their hours are split between meeting online and on-campus

It is also important to note that just because your classes online, doesn’t necessarily mean your tests will be online. Some professors may prefer that students come to a local campus so that their exams may be proctored.

Everyone Is Doing It

For many years, for-profit colleges and universities ruled the scene. As the world turned more towards the use of computers, cell phones, and tablets many more schools began to offer online courses and full online degree programs. Schools such as Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, community colleges, and probably your local university began offering robust degree programs for the ever-changing population.

Learn for Free

With the boost of online education, many educators have realized that they can start providing education for free. Programs like Udacity, MIT open courseware, iTunes U, and many more have led the way in free online education. While the majority of these options are only courses and not substantial degree programs, they do allow prospective students to take an online course and see if it is a good option for them. It also allows anyone who is interested in learning something new to do so, without having to cough up tuition fees. Many employees and those seeking work will find that these are easy, and inexpensive, ways to learn new skills and beef up their resumes

Online learning is often times referred to as a “trend”, yet the numbers indicate that this isn’t a trend that will soon flat line. We do our shopping online, bank online, and communicate online therefore learning online is simply something that has moved out of the classroom and onto our computers.

Video Introduction to Online Learning

online school laptop

Popular Online Schools Ranked by

Many online schools offer degree and certification programs for all levels, including high school, trade, vocational, associates, bachelors, masters and doctorate. In this blog post we summarize ten of the most popular online schools in the United States. These schools are listed in no particular order and the information provided should only be used as a reference. Selecting an online school is an important decision and one that should be well researched.

Table of Contents:

  1. Liberty University Online
  2. Walden University
  3. Ashford University
  4. Post University Online
  5. Strayer University
  6. Kaplan University
  7. Argosy University
  8. Devry University
  9. University of Phoenix
  10. Western Governor’s University

1. Liberty University Online

According to U.S. News and World Report and Barron’s Profiles of American colleges, Liberty University’s rank among online schools rose from average to excellent since 2011 due to its transfer-friendly credits, small class sizes and wide selection of degrees and certification programs. With over 55,000 students enrolled in online programs and nearly 70,000 students living on campus, Liberty University is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Eighty percent of students attending Liberty remain to enroll in additional courses rather than electing to enroll in another online school. Additionally, over 55 percent of Liberty’s students eventually complete their studies and obtain certifications or degrees. Programs consist of eight week modules, with online students able to access Liberty’s technical, academic and library resources 24/7.

Liberty is a non-profit educational institution that has low tuition rates as well as accommodating payment plans to assist students who are ineligible for federal financial aid.

2. Walden University

With over 60 academic programs providing associate, bachelor and master’s degrees as well as accreditation by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, Walden University is the choice of thousands of students seeking comprehensive and quality instruction from nearly 40,000 experienced professors located all over the world. Walden is known for its implementation of the U.S.’s first online master’s program in education called Educational Change and Technology Innovation.

Student support representatives are available in real-time through online chat, email or phone, making the enrollment and educational process easier for students who may experience difficulty with online school time management.

In 2011, G.I. Jobs magazine named Walden University as one of the friendliest schools for military personnel wanting to attend college. Additionally, Walden was ranked #2 as having the most online nursing graduate students attending one university.

3. Ashford University

Ashford University Online offers students nearly 50 programs from which to choose that include health care administration, psychology, accounting, early childhood education, communications and business administration. This university is recognized by the Higher Learning Commission, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the North Central Association of Colleges and Universities.

Students who have previously completed academic programs at other universities can transfer 90 credits when enrolling in a bachelor’s program at Ashford. In addition, students are not bound to a semester-based system integrated into traditional higher learning institutions. Instead, Ashford’s online students experience continuously run classes that offer weekly assignments which can be accessed and/or submitted at any time it is convenient for the student. Further, students receive unlimited access to services such as tutoring, counseling and one-on-one instructor communication.

4. Post University Online

Consistently ranked in the top 20 of online schools based in the U.S. as well as in the top 10 for providing financial aid services, Post University online allows students the choice of over 40 programs culminating in certification, associate, bachelor, master and doctorate degrees. Some of Post’s most popular programs include computer information systems, early childhood education, business administration, legal studies and human services.

Post also has a Master of Business Administration degree that offers students a choice of five different specialized fields from which to choose—Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Corporate Innovation and Finance. Most master’s degrees are completable within 24 months, with bachelor’s degree sometimes needing only 18 months to finish.

Online faculty consists of professors with Ph.D. Degrees who have working experience in their field of study. Additionally, Post provides all students with advising and tutoring services as well as access to a comprehensive virtual library.

5. Strayer University

Strayer University is unique in that it offers two kinds of online classes—synchronous and asynchronous. While synchronous classes meet every week at the same time (most weekends and nights), asynchronous courses can be logged into seven days a week at any time of the day. This flexibility afforded by Strayer makes it one of the more popular online schools with working students or students with young children at home.

Students new to Strayer are provided with free tutoring services if necessary for all introductory classes such as English, math, accounting and business. Certificate and degree programs offered by Strayer involve criminal justice, public administration, education, economics and health services.

Because the average student attending Strayer online courses is in their early to mid-thirties, many adults prefer the “older” atmosphere at Strayer and report that they feel a connection with their classmates which makes it easier to progress towards the completion of their degree.

All potential students need a high school diploma or GED before applying to one of Strayer’s programs. Graduate degree enrollees must submit a valid bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college, with the exception of the Executive Master’s of Business Administration degree. Strayer expects grad students to maintain a grade point average of at least 2.75 and a score of 450 or higher on the Graduate Management Admission Test.

6. Kaplan University

Kaplan University is comprised of four physical campuses and an expansive online program system taught by 4000 instructors and attended by almost 70,000 campus-based and online students. With over 80 degrees from which to choose, Kaplan students are able to earn accredited diplomas in fields as different as nursing and information technology. Other popular degree and certification programs available through Kaplan’s online schools are business administration, health sciences and criminal justice.

Home to the Concord Law School, Kaplan is one of the few online schools able to provide juris doctor degrees. Additionally, this university is currently accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools as well as the prestigious Higher Learning Commission.

Kaplan also has a Bachelor of Nursing program that is recognized by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Students also have access to LexisNexis library services due to Kaplan’s affiliation with the Washington Post Company. This database contains over 65,000 ebooks that directly assist students in completing assignments and producing quality research papers. Other services provided free of charge by Kaplan include academic tutoring, professional networking, resume assistance and how to prepare for a job interview.

7. Argosy University

Established in 2001 after the merger of the Medical Institute of Minnesota, the American School of Professional Psychology and the University of Sarasota, Argosy University incorporates components of these higher learning facilities to produce an excellent and extensive list of online programs. With physical campuses located in 12 states, Argosy provides online courses culminating in bachelor, master and doctoral degrees.

Argosy is known for its distinctive approach to online learning. Created by the Socrates Distance Learning Technologies Group, this learning strategy is taught to all online instructors who implement these techniques to facilitate the process of successfully completing an online program. In addition, students are given 24/7 access to technical support, tutoring services, academic advising and an online library exclusive to Argosy.

Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Argosy University offer various degree programs through their Arizona-based campus. This campus is comprised of the College of Undergraduate Studies, the College of Education, the College of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, The College of Health Sciences and the College of Business.

8. DeVry University

Recognized by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIM), Devry University’s online programs are designed to allow students to earn degrees as quickly as they can successfully complete assignments and earn credits assigned to that program. For example, students exhibiting good time management and studying skills may obtain an associate’s degree in one year instead of the usual two years. Master’s degrees may be earned in one year and bachelor’s degrees are potentially attainable in three years.

Examples of degrees attainable with completion of online programs include an Associate’s in Health Information Technology, Bachelor’s in Healthcare Management, Bachelor’s in Emergency Management, Associate’s of Web Graphic Design and doctorate programs in the College of Health Sciences and the College of Engineering and Information Science.

Devry also takes an active stance in assisting students who present financial difficulties with paying tuition costs by offering 7000 scholarships worth nearly $25 million. In fact, over 80 percent of Devry online students are eligible for and receive some form of financial aid, whether it is local, state or federal aid.

9. University of Phoenix

In 2010, the University of Phoenix had nearly 600,000 students enrolled in one of its many online programs. It offers open enrollment privileges, accepts credit transfers and requests that students attend an orientation workshop to enhance their online learning experience. Additionally, students with financial need may be eligible for a variety of grants awarded to the University of Phoenix that are intended to offset tuition costs. These grants include the Federal Pell Grant, the Academic Competitiveness Grant, the Federal Direct Student Loan Program, the Federal Perkins Loan, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and the Federal Direct PLUS Loan option for graduate students.

Regional accreditation has been awarded to the University of Phoenix since 1978 by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and the Higher Learning Commission. Additionally, UOP’s School of Business is recognized by the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs; its online College of Education is accredited by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council and Kaplan’s College of Nursing’s bachelor’s and master’s programs have been accredited by CCNE, or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

10. Western Governor’s University

Western Governor’s online courses are attended by nearly 35,000 students in the U.S. as well as overseas military bases. It is a nonprofit, private university that does not require students provide ACT or SAT scores prior to enrolling. However, all students applying for a WG degree program must take an admissions examination and pass before being accepted.

Because this university does not depend on federal or state financial aid for support of its operating expenses, other foundations and corporations supply Western Governor’s University with funding. Some of these include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, American Express, Sun Microsystems and the Simmons Media Group.

Based in Indiana, WGU consists of four colleges providing students with the opportunity to receive accredited bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. These colleges include the College of Business, Teachers College, College of Information and Technology and the College of Health Professions. A working mentor is assigned to each student who is responsible for assisting the student through the enrollment process up to the time he or she receives a degree. Additionally, WGU students may take specific tests without needing to study if they reveal superior competency towards a certain subject.


Online schools are becoming recognized for providing a high level of education. While fake “diploma mills” still operate online and manage to scam thousands of dollars out of unsuspecting students, the majority of online schools, such as the schools mentioned above, provide outstanding educational programs for people wishing to open new employment opportunities for themselves and experience a lifetime career they truly enjoy.