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For those who have been prevented from pursuing higher education courses by financial, geographical or time factors, the Internet may indeed be a blessing.

Pamela Pease

Colorado-based Jones International University, the first fully online university to receive regional accreditation, was founded in 1993 and launched in 1995.

“Education at JIU is available to anyone who has access to (information technology) and e-mail, allowing them to take high quality courses and degrees,” JIU President Pamela Pease said.

“With everyone’s lives being so busy, it’s a great and accessible opportunity to get higher education.”

Pease is currently in Tokyo to speak at a two-day seminar on education cosponsored by Japan and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The seminar ends today.

According to Pease, JIU students can continue with their work and business activities while simultaneously benefiting from career-advancing education.

And the cost of doing so is a fraction of the annual tuition fees charged for similar courses at brick-and-mortar institutions such as Harvard School of Business.

The university, which now boasts 2,200 students from 57 countries, offers 45 executive and professional education programs and 15 degree programs, according to Pease. The students range in age from the mid-20s to early 70s, while 90 percent of those pursuing courses are working adults.

Asked how class interaction is achieved, Pease said, “Online work groups, e-mail and other online forums are used to foster communication, collaboration and skill acquisition.

“The evaluation processes are (made) through papers, open-book exams — which students have to complete within 24 hours — and group projects where students work as a team and create, for example, Web sites together.”

To make the learning experience more personal, students can “meet” each other by posting their photos and profiles online, while an online adviser can be contacted to consult over course plans.

The faculty is composed of experts from institutions in 42 countries, including the University of California, Columbia University and the London School of Economics. Content experts in the faculty design courses and set evaluation standards for student performance.

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