Non-Traditional Learning, Online Degrees

You don't have to go school anymore to get an education. Home schooling programs exist all over the country and have been growing in numbers and popularity for many years. Alternative high schools have also been around for decades and offer a minimum amount of class time combined with work experience and dance and musical experimentation. Some parents even take their kids out of school for a year or more just to travel the world and learn by seeing how other cultures live and survive. Learning in the workplace is now a hodgepodge of seminars and workshops, classroom training, coaching and mentoring, tele-classes, e-learning, and the latest wave of distance and web-based learning. It's getting harder to find traditional training programs outside of the formal education system and even there school districts across the country are engaged in testing and refining a variety of new and non-traditional learning methods. Distance learning is one way of this new type of thinking and learning that has really gained a foothold, particularly at the college and university level. Millions of Americans are now engaged in their first or second attempt to get that long sought goal, a college degree through distance learning. Almost every university and college now offers some form of online degree granting program and some even have graduate studies that at least partially can be taken through distance learning. It's easy to understand the growth of this type of training as it parallels the growth of the personal computer and the World Wide Web. All that was missing was a technological connection between the users and the academic institutions and the emergence of relatively cheap and really fast Internet access was the key that unlocked the door. Non-traditional learning methods like distance learning have forced administrators and legislators to react quickly to meet this growing demand. For students of all ages it has meant many more options are open to them and it allows them to easily overcome the barriers of time, money and distance that have held them back for so many years from the degree and the accompanying accreditation that will open new doors for their careers and their futures. Distance learning, like so many other non-traditional ways of learning, were developed and expanded to knock down the virtual walls that surround some of our academic practices. For many people it can't happen fast enough and they welcome the changes to date and are looking for more innovations in the future.