Different types of online graduate programs

  • Different types of online graduate programs

    If you're thinking about going back to school for an advanced degree, you will want to find a program that fits your busy schedule. Maybe you need to balance a full-time career, parenting duties or other commitments. An online master's degree might be the best way to take your education to the next level while dealing with a hectic calendar. According to a study by the Babson Survey Research Group, there were 1,105,124 graduate students enrolled in distance learning programs in 2016. This is one-third the total amount of graduate students reported in 2016.

    There are two different online course styles you can choose from when considering programs: synchronous and asynchronous. Read on to learn more about the two different formats offered by online graduate schools.

    Synchronous learning

    When you enroll in a synchronous course, you can expect to learn in real time. Your instructor will host a virtual classroom, in which all students should be present.

    Benefits of synchronous programs

    You can ask questions instantly. If you have any questions during a lecture, you can ask your instructor on the spot so they can give you an answer promptly.

    You can interact easily with your peers. When you and your classmates are online at the same time, you will have no trouble getting your peers together for a supplemental class discussion. This allows you to experience different perspectives and promotes networking opportunities with other distance learners.

    Drawbacks of synchronous programs

    Class schedules are not flexible. Because synchronous courses occur at pre-scheduled times, you will need to plan around this window of time.

    Technical errors can be problematic. If the platform your instructors use to stream their lectures goes down during a scheduled class period, you and your classmates will not be able to attend the online course at the designated time. This can be irritating to educators and students alike.

    Asynchronous learning

    In an asynchronous setting, your instructors will distribute coursework online in chunks or all at once. From there, students can listen to lectures and complete readings at their own pace, as long as they adhere to any assigned deadlines. Since you're viewing all content on demand, you can contact your instructors or classmates via email or discussion board if you have any questions or relevant insight.

    Benefits of asynchronous programs

    Your schedule is flexible. Because you will not be required to log on at a designated time, these online courses allow you to work on your own time. This is particularly accommodating to parents, full-time workers and those with unpredictable schedules.

    You can complete as much work as you'd like at once. If you are having an off day when you need to tune into a synchronous lesson, you might not be able to focus. Since asynchronous lessons are available on demand, you can choose to complete coursework when you are feeling prepared to learn.

    Drawbacks of asynchronous programs

    Collaboration does not come naturally. Since your classmates are operating on different schedules, you will need to go out of your way to network or arrange for group projects.

    You must be accountable. Asynchronous courses do not have regular class sessions, so you will need to be self-motivated to tune into lessons and view all supplemental assignments.

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