Social media isn’t that new anymore, but turning it into a career is. The options for formal education in writing and marketing for Web 2.0 are still pretty limited. Many programs have courses, but not degrees, on the subject. There are online certifications, but are those taken seriously? I feel like receiving my B.A. through in-person classes gives me a leg up on someone who went to college online. But why the stigma anymore? Hasn’t the Internet been around long enough for us to see the benefits? Imagine having access to any professor, classmate, or regional specialty topic in the country, not just those in a 10 mile radius.
Especially for careers dealing with online issues, wouldn’t online education make sense? You sit at your computer and practice what the professor is talking about by video on another screen, while typing your question in so he/she can answer it when its time for questions. Of course, many people would answer there is a need for human interaction or we’ll all become robots. Or that there is an anonymity and lack of accountability that comes with the Net — You could walk away from your computer during an online lecture and no one would ever know.
In the end, I believe it comes down to the subject and the quality of education. If Harvard is offering an online course, chances are it will be up to certain standards despite being on the Internet. I still wouldn’t trust an online college I had never heard of just the same as signing up for a course at an in-person college I had never heard of, at least to the same degree as one I had heard of. (That’s the power of name recognition for you, Communicationists.) As for the subject matter, I am currently taking a Spanish conversation class and just finished a speech writing class. The benefits of having these classes within walking distance of my home are clear and I wouldn’t have taken them online. One recent example I find interesting is my vegan wife taking a science class online to avoid the animal dissection included in a science class at a local college. She is finding the class just as demanding and useful as her live classes. There are plenty of specific cases like this that could make online education a better fit for certain cases. Just because something is online doesn’t automatically make it untrustworthy.
Have you ever taken an online course and felt like you got return on your investment? Would you consider putting a webinar series on your resume?