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Sunday's letters: There's value in online courses

Best education is face to face | March 17, Bill Maxwell column

There's value in online courses

I hope Bill Maxwell considers softening his stance against massive open online courses, or MOOCs, as they provide opportunities and make a good fit for many people.

I didn't begin my college education until I was over 30 years old, and I worked full time throughout my entire college career. I received my associate of arts degree from St. Petersburg College almost completely online. Without having the flexibility of online classes this would not have been possible. And the traditional classes I did attend while at SPC were highly distracting at best because they were essentially filled with 20-something high school students.

Next I went to Eckerd College, where I received my bachelor's degree in human development. I attended the Program for Experienced Learners and this was a wonderful experience that I continue to highly recommend to anyone who asks about my education. I feel that I was fortunate to have such a high-quality educational institution like Eckerd so close to where I live, but many students, either young or older, don't have such an excellent opportunity. To these students, MOOCs may be the only access to higher education available.

I then went on to receive my master's degree from an accredited online university. At that time, I continued to work full time and was faced with a family health crisis that would not have allowed me to continue my education in a traditional university setting.

I feel fortunate to have had both traditional classroom settings and online classes available to me to achieve my academic goals. The online learning environment offers solutions to barriers that many people face while attempting to fulfill their wishes, hopes and dreams of achieving a higher education.

M.A. Russell, South Pasadena

Best education is face to face March 17, Bill Maxwell column

Many modes of learning

Bill Maxwell and Donald Eastman assert that the "best education is face to face" and dismiss online learning and MOOCs (as if they were the same), inferring they are "cheap" financially and of lower quality and thus more suitable for adult learning.

Is that why Harvard, Stanford, MIT and other elite colleges, to be joined by Yale this fall, offer MOOC courses? Recently Duke, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt and others announced they will offer a program called Semester Online.

The main point, neglected by Maxwell, is that we are going through an important period at all levels of education when educators and cognitive professionals are focusing on the variety of ways that we learn, as children and adults. There is no one "best" way, but ways of learning. Online learning, blended courses, MOOCs, etc., are just a few of the various learning modes we now have at our disposal. It is way too early and unhelpful to take sides.

Merle F. Allshouse, St. Petersburg

The wages of capitalism March 17, Robyn Blumner column

Working for low wages

I was pleasantly surprised by Robyn Blumner's column that exposes the American Legislative Exchange Council for their fight to keep wages low for the working class. Most media outlets will not critique ALEC because they are afraid of their advertising dollars being pulled from the many companies that belong to ALEC.

Please inform yourself by researching ALEC online, because you will not get the truth about this organization from most of the so-called liberal (corporate-owned) media.

Scott McKown, Palm Harbor

Pension change hurts Floridians March 21, letter

Pension problems

A major argument used against Will Weatherford's plan to replace Florida's current fixed pension plan with a 401(k) program is to point to what happened to the stock market in 2008. Those who use that reason need to look at the stock market today.

They also need to look at most of the workers in the private sector, who have a 401(k) plan or nothing. Why should my tax dollars go to pay for a pension plan better than I have?

Also they need to look at the huge unfunded pension liability crisis this country is facing, which is one of the root causes of why American cities are declaring bankruptcy.

H. Lockett, Tampa

Health reform brings better care, lower cost March 21, commentary

Insidious fraud

It is heartening to know that, at last, big-dollar cases of Medicare fraud are being uncovered and prosecuted.

But there is a far more insidious type of fraud that goes unnoticed. It's found in the form of doctors, unknown to or unapproved by the patient or patient's family, "visiting" in the hospital — showing up bedside, asking a few questions to uncover already known information, then billing Medicare for the visit.

This happened on numerous occasions to both my elderly mother and father; I've heard similar stories from residents of my mother's nursing facility.

Multiply this by millions and you have tens of millions of dollars of waste about which Medicare claims it can do nothing.

Terri Benincasa, Palm Harbor

Iraq war anniversary | March 17, Perspective

Losses run deep

Sadly, no one is being held accountable for this unnecessary war and waste of money. The American taxpayer again is ripped off by power-hungry politicians and their defense contractor friends with big bucks to buy votes. You can't buy friendship in the Middle East.

Judy Wooden, Dunedin

Caught with their hands in the cookie jar again | March 20, Lucy Morgan column

Tallahassee temptations

How ironic for Will Weatherford that he finds taking health care money from the federal government as an attempt at a "buyoff" but he sees nothing wrong in taking rides on airplanes owned by lobbyist.

It did not take long for him to succumb to the Tallahassee two-step. I had such high hopes for him. I guess it was too much to expect that the new guys would be a change for good.

Ronald Matte, Land O' Lakes

Sunday's letters: There's value in online courses 03/23/13 [Last modified: Friday, March 22, 2013 5:24pm]
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