Walden University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 3356-3365
ISBN: 978-84-617-2484-0
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 17-19 November, 2014
Location: Seville, Spain
Online delivery is now an accepted method for quality education in both undergraduate and Master’s level programs. Most schools, large and small, offer fully online Master’s level work. This includes even the most prestigious schools in the world. It has not been that long ago that educators were skeptical of any fully online program. Today, it is an accepted paradigm, especially for working adults.

Doctoral programs are viewed today in much the same way Master’s programs were 10 years ago. Many educators are skeptical that online doctoral studies can produce the same quality of graduates as a comparable on-ground program; however, for some professions, the online approach may be more effective than face-to-face. This paper examines one such program demonstrating that online doctoral programs can compete with the traditional ones.

There are a few universities offering online PhDs and professional doctorates, with varying degrees of quality. Quality is often an elusive characteristic in any form of educational delivery.

Wilner (2007) completed a literature review and synthesized the following criteria to assess quality of education as measured by the characteristics of its graduates:
• technical knowledge or competence in a major field;
• literacy (communication and computational skills, technological skills);
• “just-in-time” learning ability that enable graduates to learn and apply new knowledge and skills as needed—often referred to as lifelong learning skills;
• the ability to make informed judgments and decisions (correctly define problems, gather and analyze relevant information, and develop and implement appropriate solutions);
• the ability to function in a global community, including knowledge of different cultures and contexts as well as foreign language skills;
• a range of characteristics and attitudes needed for success in the workplace including: flexibility and adaptability; ease with diversity; motivation and persistence; high ethical standards; creativity and resourcefulness; and the ability to work with others, especially in groups;
• demonstrated ability to apply these skills to complex problems in real-world settings (Wilner, 2007)

The online medium is perfect for quality professional doctorates. These are programs designed for working professionals who want to prepare for senior-level positions in industry and academia. One such program is the accredited Doctor of Information Technology at Walden University. The program offers a fully online curriculum, but also includes two required face-to-face academic residencies. As it completes its first year, the data support the characteristics noted by Wilner in providing quality education that adds value to its graduates. This paper assesses the impact of leadership simulators, face-to-face residencies, seminar courses, and doctoral research studies on providing a quality online doctoral degree in Information Technology.

[1] Wilner, A. (1997). Quality Assurance in Higher Education: A Literature Review. National Center for Postsecondary Improvement. Stanford University.
Quality education, online doctorate.