METROPOLIS | CLASSIFIEDS | PERSONALS | JOBS

TECH KNOW

School's in
             
   Session


From earning an MBA to making a webpage, online classes are a convenient way to study at your own pace. Kristen McQuillin hits the books.

With a nod to 19th-century correspondence courses, 21st-century technologies take learning online to make them more interactive and personal. Online classes let you to work at your own pace at a time and location that is convenient to you-just the ticket in hectic Tokyo.

Basic distance learning courses are packaged on CDs or a simple website. They are the equivalent of a book and may include access to an instructor by e-mail. These simple presentations are targeted for lifelong learners who are not interested in college or professional credit.
More interaction comes with the addition of components like testing, bulletin boards and chat. Some courses use custom classroom software that incorporates assignment uploading, class projects groups, and resource libraries in a secure environment. The instructor is more accessible and participates in the course to answer questions, give assignments and guide students. Taking distance learning a step further, computer video conferencing is an infrequent but very effective method of communicating among classmates and faculty scattered widely.

The perfect online learner
It takes a special person to excel in online education. Some students feel they get more out of online learning than from traditional classes. You will probably enjoy distance learning if you are self-directed, comfortable with technology, and able to express thoughts and personality in writing. Remember, most of your interaction with your instructor and classmates will be via e-mail, chat, or bulletin board postings, and that's not counting class assignments and papers.

For an evaluation of your future as a distance learner, try OnlineLearning.net's self-assessment: www.onlinelearning.net/ole/holwselfassess.html

Professional education
Technology certifications and skill upgrades can be earned online from vendors like Cisco and Sun or from more broadly-based technology educators including BrainBench (www.brainbench.com) , SmartPlanet (www.smartplanet.com), and CompTIA (www.comptia.org).

You can earn professional credits in other fields including real estate, accounting, education, architecture, and law. About.com's Distance Learning section (www.about.com) lists many professional certification programs.

University degrees
Accredited programs in the US, UK & Australia offer degrees from Bachelor to Masters level and certificate programs. MBAs are popular, areas of study but even Music Education degrees can be earned online. Many degree programs combine solo study with online group projects, discussion boards, live chats or video conferencing.

When choosing a degree program, beware of diploma mills, "colleges" that offer degrees to anyone who opens a wallet. Real academic degrees are earned, not purchased. Make sure the school you choose is accredited and that any credits you earn can be transferred to other institutions.

To find an accredited program to fit your needs and budget, take a look at Peterson's Distance Learning Guide (www.petersons.com/dlearn/). Their searchable database helps you pinpoint relevant courses of study.

If you prefer an up-close-and-personal approach to choosing a school, mark your calendar for November 8th & 9th. Distance Learning Center (www.distance-learning.org) is sponsoring the Education Expo 2001 at Tokyo Central Station; a wide range of schools will be on hand to discuss their programs with prospective students.

Points to consider
Access to instructor. For university and post-graduate courses, you should have ready access to your instructor via e-mail and perhaps chat or a bulletin board. Other types of online learning offer less access to the instructor, but any course should include an e-mail address or phone number for questions. Technology and Materials. What materials (textbooks, CDs, software) are required for the course? Will any required software run on your computer? Location-dependent components? Is a residency required before a degree is granted? Are there times when you must join an event online with the full class? Do you need access to a local video conferencing system? Time/Homework. Are there deadlines or calendars to follow? How much work is required to complete the source?


TECH KNOW:
OCTOBER
394: Wire tap
wireless networking
392: You've got mail
SEPTEMBER
390: School's in session
From earning an MBA to making a webpage, online classes are a convenient ...
AUGUST
388: Diaries go hi-tech
Up-to-date diarists have chucked the avocado leatherette versions..
386: Why Upgrade?
Kristen McQuillin explains when to upgrade
384: Gadgets to go
Get the goods on the latest mobile devices
JULY
382: Hot software
The season's best new releases
380: Peripheral vision
How to purchase computer toys in Japan
JUNE
378: In safe hands
How to avoid repetitive strain injury (RSI)
376: Kill spam
How to minimize your junk email
MAY
372: In for repair
Computer repair options in Tokyo
APRIL
370: Game for a laugh
Semi-annual Tokyo Game Show
368: Knowledge is power
Empowering women in technology
MARCH
366: Generation next
Cutting-edge keitai
364: MacWorld
Exploring MacWorld Tokyo 2001
FEBRUARY
362: Online translation
Simultaneous E-to-J and J-to-E translation... online
360: DIY Star Wars
Recreate your own sci-fi epic at home
JANUARY
358: Network gaming
Play games with friends on your keitai
357: Bad it online
Japan's burgeoning e-commerce market
355: Robotic revelations
Japanese robots leading the way
352/3: Get the point
beenz.com - a new kind of points system
350: Talk is cheap
Internet telephone technology
348: Tsukumo
RoboconMagazineKan
346: Digital Stadium
Innovative computer-generated art on NHK
344: Tokyo Game Show
The latest releases at this fall's show
342: WonderBorg
The mechanical insect
340: Fun and games
There's a new game console in town...
337: Dream on
Tokyo Dream Technology Fair 2000
TOP