Notepad thoughts (informal entry)
Whilst writing up my spec, I realised I would need to find a comparison to CBS that is actually delivered online. I could at least then say that the demand is there and that it is a feasible idea.
I encountered the predicted problem of finding a Comp Sci/Business joint honours style course online. Even in traditional education, there are few universities that offer joint computer science and business.
Kaplan University offer courses in Info Sys and also in business, but not a combined course. I assume that, due to the virtual nature of the university, the two "departments" cannot collaborate or tailor a joint degree.
The american college of computing and information systems (ACCIS) does run a course similar to CBS, with similar module options. However, interestingly enough they also offer a pure CS degree. It is assumed that one cannot combine and do a joint degree. I will e-mail them to confirm this assumption.
One thing that I found in common with all these degrees was that prior basic IT skills were required, as was the ownership of MS Office and a computer with a printer and internet access. The advantage of traditional education therefore, is perhaps that none of the above are required as a pre-requisite. We have ITS (at Warwick) to provide computers with broadband access, we run the CIS module to train users how to use MS Excel and Access. Furthermore, where there has been no prior exposure to MS Word or the other Office app's, there are free courses that students can attend.
Conversely, ACCIS claims there are the following benefits of online learning:
All Inclusive Tuition
At ACCIS, you benefit from an all inclusive tuition model with no additional costs for books, software, application fees, graduation fees, diploma fees, evaluation fees, or library access like you find at other schools. The following examples are based on our all inclusive tuition rate...
This is slightly contradictory though considering their system requirements include expensive programs such as Dreamweaver, MS Office 2003 and MS Visio:
One final problem I encountered regarding accessibility to these US-based online courses is further restrained by the fact that these institutions appear to be targeting (their home) US market, not the international market. All registration forms are rigidly fixed for US addresses and telephone numbers, educational qualification options are limited to "high school diploma's" and the GED-General Education Diploma. There is no option for Bacalaureate or A-Levels, although this was not surprising.
I should however be careful of being hyper-critical, these are just my preliminary findings as I have not started my full research yet. It must also be said that "Online learning" is not the only form of E-Learning, this project's focus is on E-Learning components and it's varying forms. I will therefore try not to focus too much on online-learning or distant learning for now. If there is enough material however, my focus may be narrowed down exclusively to online learning, we'll see where my research takes me.