Noel Gallagher’s April 7 Maine Sunday Telegram story about online education covers, well, many facets of that technology used to extend and enhance higher education.

I do have some issues with material in the article. One relates to the stories about completing bachelor’s degrees in two years. Especially for adults, “accelerated learning” is much desired, but we need to be careful about its effectiveness.

Look at the numbers. A bachelor’s degree generally requires 120 credit hours to complete, mostly in the form of a set of 40 three-credit-hour courses. Each course generally requires 45 “contact hours” of classroom time, plus another 90 hours of work outside of class, or 135 hours of work per course per semester (45 per credit hour), which should hold, even if delivered online.

Based on the YourPace model, with six eight-week terms per year, completing a bachelor of science degree in two calendar years requires 10 credit hours per term, demanding 450 hours of work, or slightly over 56 hours of schoolwork per week per session.

Many adult learners will have some transferable credits. Working experience may enable them to be more efficient with their studies, and that experience, especially if related to their major, may also make them more productive learners, since they may already understand more than the so-called traditional-age college student. But even if one can complete the bachelor’s degree in only 54 percent of that time, it would still require a 30-hour schoolwork week – in the labor market, 30 hours per week is generally considered a full-time job for the purposes of benefit eligibility.

Unless you really did learn everything you needed to know in kindergarten, I wonder whether an adult student with another full-time job can possibly get more than a sorting credential out of such an experience.

Jay Lacke


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