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17.02.2019 Feature Article

Letter To Education Minister: Online PhDs Are Not Fake

Letter To Education Minister: Online PhDs Are Not Fake
FEB 17, 2019 FEATURE ARTICLE

Dear Sir,

Happy New Year, and thanks for your service to Ghana, even so, I haggle signing on a dotted line to the opinion that online PhDs are bogus. Ignorance is a heartland of a human nightmare. One Tocquevillian truth about politics is the upsurge of democracy on the ruins of despotism. The world is now a cornucopia of the technological revolution. I used to travel from Techiman, the capital of the newly created Bono East Region to Cape Coast University almost 6 hours journey for my undergrad. Thanks to technology, a student can pursue that same higher education in the cyber land, these days without traveling long a distance.

Nobody can be in the state of denial about the influence of the internet on human life. The idea of distance education has evolved from cassette tape, through telephone learning to the modern high speed, interactive instruction in the cyber world. Recently, the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) in Ghana denuded the lapses in the qualifications of some technical university lecturers wherein one of the reasons given was that some of these lectures received their PhDs online. The afore-cited misconception on online education has necessitated the birthing of this write-up!

Of course, there are many fake Ph.D. holders in Ghana. One of the most natural ways of detecting a phony Ph.D. is to create Gmail account, go to google scholar, and type in the Ph.D. claimant's name plus dissertation/thesis. The name and the research work will automatically pop up. The United Kingdom called Ph.D. research work thesis whereas Americans call it dissertation. Here is the deal: nobody could be awarded a Ph.D. without dissertation or thesis! Dissertation are published in reputable academic journal database!

To say online PhDs are fake amounts to factual inexactitude. Per the United States education department’s National Center for Education Statistics 2018 report, the bricks, and mortar (traditional) post-secondary enrollment plummeted by 90,000 students whereas online registration grew more than 350, 000 students, representing 5.7% increase from fall 2017. Most of the top world-class universities, like Columbia, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston University, Bowling Green State University, Arizona State University, and others run online doctoral programs including PhDs. Online students and their on-campus counterparts go through the same admission process, the same curriculum, and sometimes the same lecturer! Online educational forum is an exciting scene to behold! Students and their lecturers interact via zoom conferences akin to Skype calls.

In the United States, for example, courses that could not be taught in the cyber land are covered through face to face method known as residencies. Universities with online Ph.D. students structure their courses in such a way that virtual students join their face to face counterparts to go through classes not good for cyber instruction. I think the NCTE and the minister of education must target the unaccredited Ph.D. programs.

Most of the online graduate programs are seen in the fields of nursing and education. Nursing is a high demand field in the USA, and the employers do not expect nurses to leave their patients to their fate! After the associate degree in nursing (Equivalent to a diploma in England and Ghana), a nurse can pursue the rest of the program online up to doctoral level; be it Doctor of nursing practice or Ph.D. in nursing.

The duration of the online Ph.D. courses in the United States is coterminous with the face to face Ph.D. programs. In the United States, Ph.D. ranges between four years to eight years. If those online PhDs are obtained within six months or two years as claimed by NCTE, then the school is questionable! The NCTE must ferret out unaccredited programs rather than the brazen display of ignorance about online graduate programs. Is there any difference between going to the lecturer's of office at UCC or Legon for elucidation and getting the same explanation from the same lecturer through zoom conference or Skype?

To say online Ph.D. is inferior to bricks and mortar doctoral programs is to say online banking is inferior to face to face banking or Amazon and Alibaba are inferior to Walmart. We used to post love letters via the post office. Today email and text messages have replaced traditional love letters! The government must equip the University lecturers with technology-driven learning modalities. Educational technology is a lucrative specialty in the USA because of online education.

I think Ph.D. holders who must teach the technical university students must be those with curricula crafted on the scholar-practitioner model (combination of research and application). Professional doctorate holders like Doctor of Technology are needed to handle the technical university students. Masters holders with professional qualifications like ACCA, CIPS, CIM, and CIMA must equally be accepted to teach at Ghana's technical universities. Research only Ph.D. holders to some extent may not inure to the benefit of professional university students.

I hope the reason provided above will goad NCTE to amend their impressions on cyber world PhDs. We don't expect the nurses and medical doctors to leave their clients for Ph.D. programs at the University Campus. Online Ph.D. holders have more expertise than their face to face counterparts. Most online Ph.D. students are professionals working, and a combination of academic work and experience on the job offer them a cutting edge knowledge over their bricks and Mortar counterparts!

Those lecturers saying online PhDs are not good must admit they are computer illiterates, they must not say online PhDs, especially from a well-established Universities are fake! Sir, I will end by appealing to you to initiate a bill to make a significant change in the education an entrenched clause in the constitution to prevent politicians from gambling with Ghana's education. Online is just a classroom not the name of the school.

Yours Sincerely,

Nana Yaw Osei, Minnesota, USA,

[email protected]

Nana Yaw Osei
Nana Yaw Osei, © 2019

This author has authored 150 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: NanaYawOsei

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