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News & Views - Jun, 1998 Issue #52

a book review by: Bob Venard
Bonners Ferry, Idaho

VIRTUAL COLLEGE by Pam Dixon; and PETERSON’S GUIDE TO DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS. Published by Peterson’s Publishing of Princeton, New Jersey. Copies can be purchased by calling 800-338-3282, Fax-609-243-9150, or on their web site.

Programs for troubled teens are increasingly faced with the dilemma of providing traditional education in non-traditional environments. While emotional growth remains the primary focus, parents understandably are hesitant to enroll a child in a lengthy program that fails to make progress toward a high school diploma. 

While some programs enroll students in public school systems, that option is impractical for students who require extensive personal supervision and counseling. Fortunately, a valid system of education called “distance learning” provides an alternative. 

Distance learning is a method of acquiring a formal, accredited education essentially by the use of computer, television, video, audio or correspondence. VIRTUAL COLLEGE, by Pam Dixon, provides an extensive guide to the fundamentals and details of this rapidly expanding educational system. 

Dixon’s book is to the point, easily read and insightful. While the focus of VIRTUAL COLLEGE is primarily toward college credits and degrees, it offers sound advice and many helpful questions to be answered when considering any distance learning program. 

VIRTUAL COLLEGE is highly useful for an emotional growth program that is considering distance learning for their students for high school credits. Additionally, parents or educational consultants who are considering enrolling a child can use the same advice and ask the same questions to evaluate a distance learning program which an emotional growth school provides. 

While Dixon writes of some shortcomings of the distance learning system, and the fact that a particular program should be chosen carefully, she generally heartily endorses it as a cost effective, widely accepted, and quality means of education. 

Since most emotional growth schools enroll students in their early to late teens, high school credits are usually the issue. VIRTUAL COLLEGE recommends the programs of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and Texas Tech University in Lubbock as quality sources of high school diplomas through distance education. 

While credits toward high school diplomas are essentially standardized, providing college level credits to a student in an emotional growth program is every bit as complicated as choosing the right college for a son or daughter. Nearly two thousand colleges offer courses, which requires addressing the usual questions such as where the course can be taken, what media is utilized, services available, credit-earning options, transferability of credits, accreditation, typical costs, registration, and whom to contact. 

Which brings us to PETERSON’S GUIDE TO DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS, which bills itself as the most complete sourcebook of distance education programs from accredited colleges and universities. 

Peterson’s guide is essentially a catalog that touches only briefly on the personal motives, issues and goals of distance education that Pam Dixon effectively addresses in VIRTUAL COLLEGE. The catalog is, however, an excellent reference tool listing over eight hundred qualified institutions, and objectively answers specific questions for those considering college courses. 

The strength of VIRTUAL COLLEGE is Pam Dixon’s ability to personalize the decision making process of choosing and establishing a distance education program, while PETERSON’S GUIDE TO DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS is helpful in its abundance of objective information on the specific institutions involved. 

Copyright © 1998, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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