We all know that distance education is the future because people in the business of distance education tell us so. I just wish that had been an option when I was younger, because I would have loved to get an entire degree interacting with nothing other than my computer and my cat.
Not everyone thinks so highly of them, though. In my post on Alaskan hijinks, I quoted one of the people working in the library:
You have to do it by correspondence — people don’t look well on correspondence degrees — or you have to leave the state.
That’s the kind of comment that people with correspondence degrees definitely won’t like. For example, this person:
Someone needs to tell those bozos that these days it’s called “distance education”.
I got my MLIS from the University of Illinois via their LEEP program (aka “distance education”). Given the UIUC is has been the top library school in the country for a number of years now, I can assure you that my “correspondence degree” is quite well regarded, thank you very much. It even managed to get me a decent job, all without having to leave my home state.
It’s good to see someone standing up for distance education, I guess. Although one person having a distance ed degree from “the top library school in the country” might not be the norm.
I don’t have any data because I can’t be bothered to search for any, but I’m assuming large online only programs like San Jose State (ranked #33 by US News) churn out a lot more graduates than the University of Illinois. How do they fare? Are those graduates doing just fine in the job market?
I took a look at the ALA accredited programs that offer a degree that is “100% online program available”. Illinois isn’t on the list for some reason, but the only two programs on the list that are ranked in the top ten are Rutgers and Drexel. There are 4 more in the second ten. 2 more in the third ten.
That’s 8 programs out of 22 that are in the top 30, in a list that only includes about 50 schools. If we just go by rankings, understanding all the problems with that, the chances are pretty good that a lot of online MLS degrees come from schools ranked in the bottom 40% of all library schools. 6 of the 22 degrees are from the bottom 20% of ranked schools. Do they fare as well on the job market?
Also, how do other librarians view those degrees? Sure, someone with a degree from the top ranked library school won’t have to worry about reputation, but what about someone with an online degree from the bottom ranked schools? Maybe it’s that sort of reputation that motivated a further comment:
I know you won’t want to hear this, but every library I have worked at has a policy of not hiring anyone with a distance education degree. Say what you want, but it is not the same thing as a face to face education.
Do others know of policies like this? I’m assuming this is informal, because I’ve never seen a job ad that specified a library degree couldn’t be distance ed. I can only imagine the controversy that would erupt if any library did that. And if it were written down somewhere, it would probably be made public eventually.
Librarians are often in need of research agendas. I’d like to see a study comparing the job placement statistics of face-to-face versus distance ed library school students. Anecdotally, I’m not aware of any big difference, but it would be interesting to see the data.
Anyway, it’s something to think about for those of you considering that correspondence degree. Apparently there are libraries out there that won’t hire you.