How to Get Your Degree Online for Free (or very nearly): Part I

English: Hands collaborating in co-writing or ...
English: Hands collaborating in co-writing or co-editing or co-teaching in online education. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Christopher Lotito

This article is part of a multi-article series about the evolution and democratization of learning, online education, and the challenges and choices our children will face in their education over the next decade.  Pequannock News is proud to provide this personal account of experiences with online education providers (including Udacity, Coursera, edX, and others) for the value of parents, students, and the general public.

Confessions of a Learnaholic
...or how I stopped accrediting and learned to love the curriculum...

My name is Christopher Lotito and I can't stop learning.  There, I've said it.  It all started during primary school in Pequannock Township when I would spend time at lunch and after school with such local personages as Helen Pasternack or Mr. Strangea, educators at my middle school.  Supposedly I was helping them set-up their classrooms and clean, but in reality, I was asking questions like, "What makes satellites stay up?" (it's not what you THINK! [they actually aren't "staying-up" at all]) and "Why don't the peoples of Rwanda just split the darn thing down the middle and be done with it (A: Because human nature)."

Now, some 20 years later, I'm still at it.  I received my degree from Drew University in 2004 (a full year early and including a stint studying business in Iceland at the University of Reykjavik with an internship at an Icelandic firm).  In 2005 I hitched a ride down to New Orleans after Katrina and worked building communications networks for the Red Cross.  Since then I've gotten endless certifications from Dell and other tech-giants, completed so many certificates with one company that they actually recruited me as a professional test developer ("Last Starfighter"-style), and completed distances courses through FEMA and so many other places I can't even remember.

In the Fall of 2012, I decided to look for a graduate school program ("for real this time, no, seriously") and found that the field of higher education had changed drastically during the time I looked away.  I had noticed some changes, from the periphery, but it would take a concerted effort to pursue graduate education and a bit of research to find out exactly how far the changes had progressed.

The rest of this series will examine, at some length, non-traditional options for higher education (with options for high school students as well).

Christopher Lotito is a member of the Pequannock Historic District, Open Space, and Flood Control Advisory Commissions as well as the author of  "Torrent," a book about flooding in the region.  Lotito's personal mission is to reduce new taxes, drastically reduce flooding, and preserve more green spaces for our children.  Christopher Lotito Profile

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