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Women connect at USC Aiken's graduation

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AIKEN -- Thursday night's goodbye to class work was really hello to classmates for graduates in the University of South Carolina Aiken Masters of Education Technology program.

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Shanika Reaosha Bowens (right), lined up with Shuchemia Nicole Bradley, holds up an imaginary glass to toast the Class of 2010 before the University of South Carolina Aiken commencement.   Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Shanika Reaosha Bowens (right), lined up with Shuchemia Nicole Bradley, holds up an imaginary glass to toast the Class of 2010 before the University of South Carolina Aiken commencement.

As Cheryl Fogle, Bonnie Knight, Amy Edwards and Andrea Williams straightened caps and draped their hoods, they were also finally matching up whose face went with whose online personality.

The women, who took all online classes, knew about one another through biographies they posted about themselves for a class. Some had even worked on projects together without ever stepping foot in each other's study space.

"We were looking at each others' cards to see who was who," said Fogle. "This is probably the cherry on the cake of our classes."

The women built connections through e-mails, in which they could seek guidance from others.

"The program definitely fosters a sense of community," said Fogle.

The women were part of the more than 300 graduates who participated in commencement ceremonies at the Convocation Center.

Dr. Nils Diaz, of Tampa, Fla., and past chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Denmark, S.C., artist Jim Harrison were awarded honorary doctorates during the ceremony.

Diaz, who delivered the commencement address, left graduates with a parting sentence that as a scientist, he took comfort in always being 100 percent correct: "Whatever you do not do will forever be undone," he said.

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disssman
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disssman 05/07/10 - 07:39 am
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And that in a nut shell is

And that in a nut shell is what is wrong with education in this country. I wonder what happened to classes where you actually attend and listen to a lecture with questions? Just think, if they were RCBOE employees, they would now qualify for probably 12-15 thousand dollar raises and still be teaching the same classes.

jedwards1981
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jedwards1981 05/07/10 - 08:12 am
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@disssman - Your comments

@disssman - Your comments prove that you have no knowledge of the degree of which you speak. These women have worked hard, met in online classrooms, and corresponded by e-mail and other electronic means in pursuit of a degree that will help them further their careers. As a result of their hard work and dedication to the advancement of their own education, they are now more fully qualified to teach in our school systems. Teachers today are grossly underpaid and unappreciated. Is our public school system perfect? Absolutely not, but I have to applaud these ladies (and men who also earned the degree) for their hard work and dedication.

KingJames
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KingJames 05/07/10 - 09:18 am
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Online classes are not the

Online classes are not the joke some people think. Anyone who takes them will tell you that you have to be a very disciplined student. I only took a couple of them, but didn't like them because it seemed I had to do a lot of reading with no lecture from my professors (only posts and emails). Then again, that's the discipline part. Most of what is learned is actually read by the student, just as would be in a brick and mortar classroom. Most people communicate using some form of technology, so why not educate the same way? Anyone opposed to it is behind the times. Now that I'm looking into going to graduate school, I'm mainly considering institutions with online courses. Congratulations to the graduates. No matter what anyone else says, you all have achieved a major accomplishment in your lives. Be proud of yourselves. Be very proud.

livinginthebuckle
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livinginthebuckle 05/07/10 - 09:57 am
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I am curious to know how you

I am curious to know how you can guarantee that the people taking on-line classes are actually the ones taking the exams and how can you make sure they don't have two windows open, one with the test and one where they can surf for the answers? What keeps every test from being open-book?

I'm not saying these women did not work hard nor am I suggesting they cheated in any way, I'm just questioning the practice of on-line courses in general.

PacerAlumna
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PacerAlumna 05/07/10 - 11:01 am
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@jedwards1981 and @KingJames,

@jedwards1981 and @KingJames, thank you very much.
@livinginthebuckle, I can't speak for every online degree program, but can say a thing or two about this one. In this particular program, cheating would be near impossible. Online learning is not all reading and test-taking. Posing as someone else would be difficult due to the level of participation required. Students are not isolated learners. They interact with each other and really get to know each other. With innovations like web conferencing and cloud computing, collaboration is made easier. We do listen to lectures, they are just online. Professors deliver lectures via an array of technologies like YouTube Videos, podcasts, screencasts, etc. Class discussions take place using message boards, listserves, wikis, blogs, and even Facebook. Learning is assessed through online discussion, research papers, and individual and group projects. Online learning is both challenging and rewarding. It requires a lot of discipline as mentioned before and requires more effort on behalf of the learning. It’s not for everyone, but in my case, I benefit more from this learning environment than any other.

KingJames
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KingJames 05/07/10 - 11:04 am
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Livinginthebuckle, the tests

Livinginthebuckle, the tests are timed. The wording is usually such that you have to know the material in order to get the correct answer. Because they are usually multiple choice tests, sometimes all of the possible answers to a question look like they should be the correct answer. The only way you would be able to answer all of the questions correctly within the alotted time is if you studied the material. There is no time to look back at your notes or in your book to find the answer. Then there are also the many papers the students have to write. The papers usually have to be submitted to a web site that checks them for plagiarism before they even reach the professor. Some professors also require group projects. In those cases, some students meet on their own, or communicate through email to decide who will do what on the project. I suppose if you wanted to cheat, you could, but you'd have to invest more time into cheating than you would if you actually study.

livinginthebuckle
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livinginthebuckle 05/07/10 - 01:29 pm
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I still don't see how you can

I still don't see how you can be sure someone else (besides the person enrolled) isn't writing the papers, taking the tests, or even taking the class and participating in discussions. It could be a sibling, other family member or someone you may have paid to pass the course for you. I understand it might be too much effort for the whole degree, but I could see it being done for a course here or there if you were bad at Math or English or something.

TELLITLIKEITIS1
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TELLITLIKEITIS1 05/07/10 - 01:53 pm
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@livingthebuckle...i am a

@livingthebuckle...i am a senior in college right now, and i am not going online, however, i hear students in my classes paying people to do their work, getting their parents to do it...etc. So, cheating has been done for years...online and in the actual classroom.....but speaking from experience...online classes are very difficult and believe it or not, harder to cheat.

KingJames
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KingJames 05/07/10 - 02:33 pm
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Livinginthebuckle, all of the

Livinginthebuckle, all of the ways of cheating you just described sound like the same ways people have used to cheat inside a regular classroom. Let me put it to you this way. Cheaters only hurt themselves. My dad's company had him evaluate a temp-to-hire employee with an impressive resume. They wanted to hire the person permanently until they had a discussion about something one day, and the person had no clue about a few of the basic principles of business or cost accounting. The person had either lied on their resume or had cheated their way through college. All of this happened during the late '80s to early '90s time frame long before the Internet and online courses were available. The point is cheating can happen in a classroom just like it can happen online. I don't think either is more prevalent than the other.

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