Despite all the pontification about how learning online is “THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION,” this SNL sketch (as well as the comments section on any article regarding online education) certainly points to a continuing belief that anything short of a face-to-face education is somehow second-rate.
This is rather curious, seeing as the University of Phoenix (the logo of which is spoofed in the sketch) is the largest institution of higher education in the U.S. by enrollment. Add to that Kaplan University’s brilliant ad campaign arguing for education on-demand and the popularity of the state-supported, entirely online Western Governors University.
I bring this up mainly to compare it with my own recent experience at a large public university. The mix of classes between online and face-to-face was roughly 50/50, and I honestly wouldn’t give an edge to one or the other. This despite the pretty obvious bias I have favoring the online side (given both my academic concentration and the content of this blog).
I’ve never taken a class at an entirely online university, but I highly doubt this fact is necessarily an indicator of quality. Many state schools even tout the fact that they have entire academic programs online to appeal to those who live too far to commute to campus.
The thing about the SNL sketch that really caught my eye was the bit about them sending your diploma via email. A few days after my graduation this summer, I got an email with a link to a website where I could see my diploma in a choice of lovely yet ridiculously overpriced frames. Of course, the company that made this website used a CSS trick to try and keep me from downloading it.
I’d rather have the printable diploma, but I guess I should just be happy they made the university font legible. Thanks University of Mumblemumble!