John Moder is enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts in Technical Management program at DeVry University. He is specializing in business information systems. John holds an Associate of Arts and Science with an Ethnic Studies emphasis from the University of Wisconsin at Fox Valley.
John chose to pursue his bachelors degree online because he travels for his job as the operations manager for a trucking company in Wisconsin. After graduating, John intends to pursue a career in information technology.
A few factors contributed to my decision to pursue my bachelors degree in technical management online. I telecommute and travel a great deal for work, so studying online meant I could do schoolwork wherever I happened to be. Another reason was the convenient format of the coursework, which divides the 8 week terms into week-long segments.
I chose DeVry University instead of another school due to its credentials and the responsiveness of the admissions department, who seemed eager to admit me. First, I appreciated the fact that DeVry University has regional accreditation, as opposed to the less-valuable national accreditation that many other programs boast about. Second, the admissions department made the application process quick and easy for me. My admissions advisor had my enrollment and financial aid handled in less than 2 weeks.
DeVry University provides me with an academic advisor to assist me throughout my program. I keep in touch with the advisor primarily by phone and e-mail to discuss my grades and overall academic success.
But I have found that cultivating a meaningful relationship with my advisor is a challenge in an online program. Online advisors seem to have high turnover, and it has also been hard to articulate my needs to them in e-mails. Even so, when I express any concerns or ask for help, I generally receive a prompt response.
Technical management combines information technology theory with business analysis. The field deals with the organization of information and management of its use. In this program, students learn to integrate database management into business operations. The curriculum also teaches established and emerging technologies, as well as some of the theory around technical management itself.
My program at DeVry lasts for 4 years. Students receive comprehensive practical instruction in IT basics and cutting edge technology. The program also requires elective courses and a senior project. Since this program is online, the senior project involves working with an online company to do a virtual project.
One weakness I have noticed about the curriculum, however, has been its limited focus on the theory of technical management. The curriculum tends to emphasize practical skills rather concepts and theories.
The way professors present materials depends on the class, but I would say that 50% of my courses so far have used live lectures. The professor is on live audio while students sit in chat rooms, which provide a great outlet for questions. In addition, all of the classes have a text-based lecture each week that we can print off or read online. The lectures include information about weekly material as well as summaries of the reading assignments.
Each week, we log into e-College which is DeVry’s online system and the professors give us specific tasks from their syllabi. We also participate in discussion threads with our classmates.
Since my program is all online, I don’t know a lot about most of my classmates. But I believe each of my classes has about 30 students. Most of them are older students who are looking for a new career, like me. But there are younger adults, too.
One of the most useful classes I have taken was a leadership class. It was a psychology class but many of the tools we learned there apply to my current career as well. DeVry University also required me to take an introductory computer course centered around Microsoft Office. I consider myself a pretty advanced computer user, but I still took away a great deal from that course.
One of the least useful classes I have taken was about project management, which felt too reminiscent of other coursework I had done. I also have two current classes that are almost identical which feels like a waste of valuable time and money.
With a few exceptions, I find the professors very knowledgeable. The poor professors who do not put in enough effort have dull material. The great professors, however, generally supplement their material using YouTube videos or slides. I also appreciate that my professors currently work in the fields that they teach. They are able to provide relevant, up-to-date information.
I interact with my professors by phone or e-mail. Professors are supposed to respond within 24 hours and most do. Professors also post office hours for communicating with them and many provide a home phone number for emergencies. So far I have had to use those home numbers only once or twice.
I feel I have made wise choices when it comes to my educational path, so I would advise students to do 3 things if they pursue their bachelors degree online. First, students who transfer into an online program should get an accurate list of the classes that transferred successfully from their registrars. Online universities may not consider some classes equivalent to others and they may require transfer students to complete additional coursework.
Second, students should learn to find their voice and speak up in class. Sometimes I see young students hold back and not ask for the clarification they need. Willingness to point out an error or address an issue is essential for those who want to get the most out of an online program.
Finally, I suggest students stay on top of their work. I find the curriculum at DeVry University very challenging, so those who put off doing assignments until the last minute are not doing themselves any favors.