The American Public University System
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The American public university system is an online institution that offers a number of degrees to the greater American population. Based in Charles town, West Virginia, it is composed of the American military university and the American public university. It encompasses both the academic and the corporate affairs in its efforts to provide quality education. It is owned by the American public education incorporated and is publicly traded on the New York stock exchange. It was founded in 1991 and began it operations in January 1993 as the military university with the main purpose of meeting the necessary educational requirements for military persons needing specified courses and training. As the American military university with an enrolment of 18 graduate students when doors opened, learning was conducted by correspondence but this was changed and it began to offer online learning to its students in 1998. The university developed over time and in the year 2002, grew to become the American public university and established the American public university a move that was aimed at providing education to civilians in various courses especially to those who could not afford to leave their jobs and put themselves through school (Bonk, 2001).
Currently the school plays host close to eighty thousand students undertaking various courses within it. However, as far as prestige goes the university is not considered as being in the top of the academic league. Although this is the case, the university enjoys regional accreditation which is basically the highest form of accreditation as does the likes of Harvard, Yale, and so forth. Any degree from this university is guaranteed to get you a job or a promotion in your given field of choice. However, should you choose to take a teaching position in any of the country’s colleges or universities, this may pose a challenge. The school offers very exciting courses that may prove fitting for various career paths. Such include arts, business, education, management, counter terrorism, military intelligence, and so on.Like many other online universities, there are challenges and positive feedback all in one package.
Studying using the America public university system gives you a flexible schedule that works to your advantage. Enrolling for an online degree works around your schedule in a way that allows you to keep working at your job and even spend time with your family for those who cannot take the time off. It is also relatively cheaper than a regular course. This is because you do not have to pay for such amenities such as commuter fees, texts books since most can be accessed online. Since you study from the comfort of your home you are able to do a myriad of things.
This type of learning works around your schedule and you may change it to your satisfaction. You may slow it down or have it at a much faster pace as per your understanding. This is not something that can be done in a normal class setting were the teacher decides the pace at which the lessons move. Normally online courses are accelerated and therefore this means that you spent less time completing your studies than you would at a regular university setting. It is also possible to revisit previous lessons and take notes on points you may have not understood. Enrolling at the online university means that you can take your class with you if you happen to be out of town and not in your house since all you need is a good computer and internet connection. This means that it is almost impossible for you to miss classes since their flexibility allows for you to have your lessons practically anywhere in the world. Due to the diverse nature of students at the American public university and the American military university through the American public university system are able to interact among themselves and forge relationships that enrich their education experience as they are able to learn from one another different cultures.
The introduction of online learning system as opposed to the more conventional correspondence means that now it is easier for students to be in constant communication with their teachers and lecturers. Communication is primarily through the use of email. In a normal face to face kind of class, the teacher may not have time to speak to all the students, but with the online learning, you have the undivided attention of the lecturer for the duration of the class. As opposed to the correspondence, the email provides for real time communication which therefore means faster response and communication. Perhaps another attractive feature of the American public university system is the fact that financial aid is given to students. This factor is made possible by the fact that the university is accredited by the commission of higher learning for the North Central association of colleges and schools. This is one of the six regional accreditors. Financial aid offered goes a long way in ensuring that the common citizen has access to education and a chance at bettering themselves and their futures. Another great aspect about the university is that you are not constrained by geographical barriers (Shakar and Neumann, 2003).
Online education means that you can take the lesson form a different state and not necessarily where the university is situated. For example you can take a course form the academic location of the American public university which is based in Charles town awhile you reside in California. The type of learning offered also means that you can continue to work as you pursue your education. In this regard, you are able to put your course work into practical use. This gives you a better opportunity at obtaining a promotion at work since you are now able to incorporate new thinking into your job area. It also means that you can interact with fellow students about what pointers work and which needed more work. This puts you ahead of students at a regular university setting who have to wait until the completion of a school semester to find a job opportunity to put their course work in to use.
This learning is also adequate for those people who are not comfortable around crowds of people. Online learning at the university is done at your own comfort and privacy to your satisfaction. There are those who express themselves easier through writing rather than vocally, this is ideal for them. It also discourages more outgoing students from dominating the class. It gives equal opportunity to all. Unlike regular class setting where lessons are essentially led by the lecturer, here it is based on the participation of the students. Therefore this gives an opportunity for students to make their contributions and not feel intimidated by either the lecturer. Another underlying factor is that your scores are based on merits alone. It is less likely to be discriminated upon for your color or ethnic affiliation. Everyone is as equal as the next person.
The constant use of the internet and other computer based software allows you to be more accustomed to new technology and gives you the chance to acquaint yourself with the changing times. It also improves your work and gives you more confidence around your work place. Constant use of the internet for research and so forth means that you have a better opportunity at being informed to those that are not as exposed. It gives you the opportunity to learn how to maneuver various operating systems that you may also find at your work place. This will go a long way in earning you an edge over the rest of your colleagues.
The university offers an opportunity for those who live in rural setting a vast array of information which they may not have been able to experience on their own due to a number of challenges. The university system is also very adequate for those wishing to supplement their current courses. You are able to gain more exposure in a shorter period of time. With so many positive attributes there also has to be challenges that accompany such a learning system. There have been a number of challenges surrounding the American public university system. As a for profit institution, many have been quick to discredit the merits with which students are made to pass their examinations. For most people they say that the students’ papers for assignments and examinations are not properly read or assessed.
A report by the Government Accountability Office (de Vise, 2010) had it that seven out of 12 for profit universities violated various policies such as cheating, standards set for grading, and offering counselling for financial aid for the students. Many employers have said that these for profit universities are proving inept at preparing their students for the job market. A survey conducted at the American military university showed service men that were enrolled and were using the American public university system had many challenges to overcome before they could complete their given courses. The military is an outfit that revolves around rules and regulations that are followed to the letter. About 50% had difficulties working around and within their military obligations. With so much to be done within a very short period of time, it was difficult for many to give their undivided attention to their studies.
For about 35% they had constant interruptions of internet access and due to financial constraints some could not afford the more costly services and so had to seek alternative methods to access and keep up with their lessons. The other almost 32% did not have any access to internet services. Some due the constant relocations at times to remote places, finances, and many other factors that contributed to lack of internet access. For others, they complained that due to various securities on the internet, at times information was not easily accessible and so this greatly affected their learning process. Such needs need be addressed in order to ensure that they realize their various goals as they strive to protect our country (Torres, 2011).
Among many challenges that affect students who undertake online learning at the American public system are the sameinterruptions of internet connection and in return your lessons. At times you may find that your service provider is having maintenance problems and so you cannot access your lessons. This becomes a problem to you and a taxing job of finding alternative means to secure a reliable provider or getting it fixed and you end up losing on the day’s lessons. Such occurrences are common and the students suffer as a result. For one to be able to smoothly complete an online course, you need an above average knowledge of the computer and many of its workings. Your skills need be up to date since it involves a lot of software and internet usage. For a person who is not skilled enough to keep up with the workings of a computer, an online course can be a hectic struggle. They may be better of enrolling at a regular institution. Since online learning revolves around an individual’s schedule, procrastination is a factor that many students face. Students are required to be highly motivated since this is the only way they will be able to swiftly complete their lessons. Other challenges include the loads of work that is given to the student.
For many they have to juggle between jobs and school and even at times family. Sometimes they may not have adequate time to go through many of the assigned work load and may result in alternative measures just to complete the work. Some are also barely able to keep up with the work loads. In other circumstances, the students may not be able to understand the documentation and the time allocated for the lessons may not be enough to communicate in length for them to understand exactly what is required of them in their lessons. Another challenge that faces students I the fact that lectures use the cottage industry approach. This is where they apply the same modes of teaching for regular learning and use this for online learning. They need to understand that this cannot be the case since this is a different class of students that they are engaging. In as much as internet connection poses a threat to students, there is also the threat of technical failure. While your machine may be working, the server that enables for the lessons can crush and this leads to loss of lessons.
There may be an overload on the number of users at a particular time and this will make service slow down and inhibit the smooth flow of lessons. While the university may offer exciting courses, some of them require field work and practical sessions that some of the students may not be able to tend. Thus knowing the theoretical part of a concept may not help you a lot since you cannot be of any help out on the field. For such reasons it becomes imperative for the student to be aware of the course work and arrange on how to find a suitable lab and so on should there be any allocation for a practical session. There comes into play the challenge of time. You need to be aware the time zones that your classes are in so that you can effectively adjust your schedule and ensure you are in line with the program. While financial aid can be a plus and an attractive incentive, it may in itself cause some problems as has been the case for some students. They end up paying than they thought was the case. Many bloggers have termed the university as a scam that provides quantity education and is after profits without a thought about the kind of harm they are causing unsuspecting enrolees (Parry, 2010).
A number of solutions can be offered to the challenges that face the students who are undertaking online courses. It has been certified that online learning needs so level of self-motivation. Students need to be aware that will not be like ordinary learning and that it will require some sacrificing on their part in order for them to ensure they get the kind of education that is helpful in their quest for better jobs and pay. It needs to be put forward that online learning needs an independent student. This is the type of student that does not require constant pushing and reminder to get work done. These kinds of students are a bit sharper and so a little guidance is usually what they need. For dependent students this may not be ideal since they may require face to face time with the lecturer in order to understand. There are those that need to physically see the teacher for them to be fully engaged in the class. The teacher must create an environment where the students feel comfortable especially since there is the lack of physical space.
The instructor must ensure that there is an atmosphere in which lessons can be learnt without any hitches. Failure to this, there will be tension during the lessons and this is of course not a conducive environment for learning. The instructor needs to ensure that the students interact freely with each other and have equal participation from all the students. This gives the students a sense of belong and allows for easy flow during discussions. The lecturers need to understand that the lack of a physical presence will always be limiting factor to all online programs and so need to do everything in their power to ensure that they make the most out of the situation. The challenge that is faced by lack of internet access in parts of rural and semi urban parts of urban America is an issue that the Apus need to look into. For many people in these parts they are forced to spend a lot of money to enrol in regular schools when they could do so at the comfort of their homes. The university administration should make efforts to have Research carried out in this parts where education can be accessed and go a long way in eliminating poverty and ignorance. Parts of the country that do not have adequate internet connection need to be addressed since the more people that do not access means loss of consumers for them, this being from an administrative point of view.. The university needs to expand its accessibility to educate Americans.
At such a time where jobs are not in plenty, the university needs to have affordable programs that allow for interested parties to enroll and learn a thing or two to aid in their job search. This may also aid parents who may not be able to afford high costs that are associated with regular schools and have their children who are attending college take up online learning and thereby minimizing costs on both ends.As affordable as online learning is, it may prove expensive for those that do not have the necessary skills to effectively maneuver around an online class (Salmon, 2000).
For this reason, the university as part of implementing its equity stand should have an entrance exam to certify how well versed the potential student isto take part in an online lesson. Such a case will ensure that before the student takes the mode of learning they are qualified both in academic and computer skills. The university needs advocate for user friendly programs and maybe even suggest to its users to use similar programs. This will make the instructor’s job easier to be able to guide a student where they are stuck. A case where a student uses a different program that maybe the instructor is not familiar may end up with confusion within the class and loss of lesson time. The University also need be certain that the servers they use to facilitate lessons are in top shape. Where repairs are to be undertaken, they need to ensure that they give adequate notice to the students. This is so that students do not feel wasted where there was an opportunity for them to make alternative arrangements.
The university also need ensure that the facilitators they bring in are well versed in the technicalities of a virtual classroom. The success of this university has largely been due to the fact that they are catering to a vast market in which the demand exceeds the supply. But this can be compromised if the profits take center stage as opposed to fulfilling the need for education to those not able to access it through conventional means. The facilitators need to be skilled to handle an online class. They need to understand that this is not a regular class and need to employ the intricacies that aid in making the experience as accomplishing as possible. As the university has moved from the correspondence days to the email era, they also must ensure that they keep up with the dynamic world of virtual gadgets. They may want to incorporate the use of video conferencing or Skype where this makes up for the lack of physical space (Salmon, 2002).
An instance where the students are able to see the facilitator may improve the participation and success. However there are a number of factors that come of such a move both positive and negative, this should be addressed at length and weighed before approval. The university needs also to be able to have an administration that is pro change and not reluctant to make necessary changes to the system of education. Educators who do not seem to be in tune with the dynamic changes in the world of computersdo not have a place in the computer world. There is the challenge of dropouts from the online degree courses. As a facilitator, you need to be able to know which of you students has not been attending classes. The most common causes of these are the lack of socialization among the class members. In such a case, you need to encourage group participation and you may slowly draw the said student out of their shell. Since online learning lacks the brick and mortar theory of learning the facilitator need to ensure that the students interact amongst each other as they strive to create a conducive learning environment. Another way to overcome challenges posed by online learning is through the use of technology. In this case you can have presentation in the form of graphs, pie charts and so forth. This engages your students to provide their feedback on an individual level (American Federation of Teachers, 2001).
The point is to make the discussions as lively as possible so that the tension between the students is broken down. Interaction for humans is veryimportant. We cannot live by ourselves. He facilitator should strive to ensure that the students do engage each other on an intellectual level and learn from each other since online learning brings together diverse culture of people we can learn from each other’s experiences. This goes a long way in breaking social barriers that may have come up due to one reason or another. As an instructor you need to be quick about how you handle your work, in this regard, ensure you give feedback in good time and where not possible give reasons as to why this is so. Online learning is all about student participation, when this fails then the class will not proceed forward as it should. As a facilitator create an environment where your students are at ease withone another and at the same time the respect the other persons thinking and point of view, help out where possible. The lack of access to material becomes a drawbackto many students.
Due to various forms of security around information found on the internet, it becomes difficult for students to access information. This is a major setback to them especially since they are not in a position to but books. Such a situation calls for the facilitator to look for alternative means of information sites which does delay times pent for lessons. There have been suggestions being floated around for online facilitators to author their own books for use by the students. Though any outcome is yet to come of it, the university could see to it that it goes into partnership with those who are in charge of distribution of books and have a deal where students can access the books for given amount or for whatever deal is agreed upon. Since many of the lessons offered are in the English language, to some this may not be their first language. And hence they may fail to understand the course work due to this. It can be suggested that the university either offers an English class for those who are not fluent with the language. At times, the students cannot understand the documentation of the course and so does not know what to expect as faras other lessons go. It is recommended that the facilitator takes the time to carefully explain the contents of the lessons ahead including the examinations and all other relevant to the course. This will enable the student to have to have time to pose questions and prepared for the lessons ahead through planning around their schedule.
The most difficult task of all is the implementation stage. It is said that actions are louder than words. As an online university, it must walk the talk. Since they claim to advocate for quality education this should be reflected in their studentsscore cards although traditional learning will always be preferred to online learning, there has not been a significant gap when the scores are tallied. The university is regionally accredited and so should strive to gain special accreditation for its various programs especially business. The university should also put into consideration the military personnel enrolled with the online system of learning, these are people who work to protect our borders and guard our nation.
For this reason, they should revise the methods of learning that allow for maximum period of learning when they are able to. They should have the obligations revised so as to suit the needs of the students in a way that they are able to complete their educationaland be of help to their fellow soldiers. Due to the dropout situation the university has a tsk of ensuring thatthey can retain the focus of the students. This can be done in a number of ways. They have inplace some counseling sessions in the same way they learn, and here they may be able to share their problems. It may not be comfortable doing it at first but through a facilitator can ease the situation along. When a student sees that a person in the group is concerned about them, they may feel appreciated and be nudged enough o for a social bond with the rest to the group. Such a situation builds bonds with members of the class rather than remain strangers. Still in the same line of thought, this is why smaller classes are recommended since the facilitator is able to focus maximum attention on the students as opposed to regular classes where they hardly know but a handful of students (Vise, 2010).
To ascertain the continuous success of the university, there has to be involvement of the staff. They are major service providers and dedicate much of their time to the educative welfare of the students. By involving them in the matters of the university, they feel appreciated rather than as mere means for the growth of the institution. They are best placed to give advice on the direction the students should head since they are the ones who interact with them on a daily basis. As the university strives to maintain quality, it is also a business venture so it should look into making both the taxpayer and the student satisfied with the services. You need to carefully assess each course and see which has the most gains versus those that seem not to be as popular among the students. Again here you may need the assistance of the facilitators who can provide insight on how to go about this. As the university strives to attain its goal of offering quality education, it should also remember that these students belong to a real world with people with emotions, wants ad, needs. They will need life skills and interpersonal communication techniques. The university admin is mandated to do so in order to produce a well-rounded student who is able to efficiently able to conduct themselves in a given setting. The facilitator as part of their lesson can give incidences that we face on a day to day basis and ask members of the class to give their views. Such sort of interaction will bring up the various personalities of the students and engage them on a personal level. As a way of implementing transparency within the university, they recently put up a website that is intended to answer any queries that potential students and other concerned parties may have. It contains such information as how credits are given and distributed to students for them to end up with the marks they are awarded and so forth. This is meant to quell any rumors that surrounds the university and the fact that it is a for profit organization.
A major boost to the implementation process in institutions of higher learning was brought about by the creation of the seven principles of good practice (Chickering, 1996). It provided that in the changing world, if we are to embrace the ultimate force that is new technology we must do it in ways that complement these seven principles. The first advocates for good practice which in turn encourages contact between staff and students. Technology has enabled for the staff members to be within the reach of the students. Association with a member of the staff gives the student a sense of fulfillment and have and avenue for joint problem solving and intellectual talk. It is usually sometimes better and easier to have words written down rather than spoken. This is appropriate for shy students to have an opportunity to give their contribution. Good practice develops in better concentration and cooperation among students. In this regard learning is made more engaging when it is a team effort than when it is done by one person. The use of the email in the online classes allows for constant communication without the use of physical space. Good practice uses active techniques of learning.Students have diverse needs. It needs to encompass a variety of other techniques of learning otherthan sitting in a regular or virtual class setting. We need to engage in other things as we learn from different experiences. The university for example could encourage the students to apply whatever knowledge they take for their lessons to their places of work and see how compatible they are. They are able to develop insight into what works and what does not. Good practice results in efficient feedback. When coming into the virtual class we already have a sense of prior knowledge, each on their given levels (Allen and Seaman, 2005).
However, when in the class setting we are faced with tasks of putting our knowledge into use. In the regard, we want to receive feedback concerning the level of understandingwe show. By being interactive, the facilitator is able to gauge our level of understanding. Good practice lays emphasis on time. We are able to accurately plan our time properly and effectively. As such we can get the most out of our days due to the effective time management skills we learn and complete our tasks in good time. Good practices communicate high expectations. This does not happen to those who are ill prepared. You need the motivation to be able to attend you lessons. The more motivated you are. The satisfaction you get after doing a good job becomes yourself drive to achieve even higher performances.
Good practice will respect diverse talents and modes of studying. Students will come from all walks of life and have variouscapacities going on for them. We learn how to accommodate each other for a common goal. We form learning communities where the main focus is academic excellence. With such a foundation, the university can be a model of excellence to other universities striving to breach the gap and engage in the system that is online learning.As online learning itself becomes increasingly accepted as a legitimate learning format, the question of its advantages and disadvantages, pros or cons may also become moot.
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