Posted : November 4, 2005
Last Updated : December 15, 2014
Have you ever considered taking online courses? While online courses are very convenient, you may be surprised with all they entail. The following will help you decide if e-learning is right for you.
Online courses take just as much of your time as classroom courses. If you feel that you don't have time to take a face-to-face course, then you don't have time to take an online course either. In online courses, you will be required to participate in discussions with your classmates via online discussion forums. This may require you to log on to the course multiple times a day in order to read the various postings and keep up with the discussions. For some online courses, you may also be required to participate in virtual classrooms with live audio and video or watch recorded lectures by your professor. All of this is in addition to completing assignments, quizzes, group projects, and tests.
Online courses are flexible. Even though distance learning courses take just as much time to complete as on-campus classes, most online courses are more flexible. With distance learning, you aren't burdened with having to attend class several times a week at a predetermined time (unless you are participating in a virtual classroom with live audio/video). For most online courses, if you have to log on to your computer at 2am to check discussion board postings and e-mails, that's perfectly acceptable (as long as you complete assignments, quizzes, and tests on time).
Online courses require self-discipline. You can easily fall behind in your online course work if you do not stay motivated. It is up to you to check discussion board postings every day, ask questions if you are confused, read textbook assignments and e-mails, etc. You won't be going to a classroom every day where the teacher repeatedly reminds you of tests dates and assignment due dates. You have to be a dedicated student in order to perform well in online courses.
Online courses can actually offer more classmate interaction than on-campus courses. Because most online courses require discussion board participation from every student, there is more classmate interaction than there would be in a classroom where only a couple of students participate in discussions. Therefore, you benefit by getting several responses to questions and hearing various opinions.
Online courses require computer skills. You don't need to be an advanced computer user to succeed in online courses, but it is helpful if you have basic computer skills. You need to be comfortable with using the Internet, Microsoft Office software, course management system (such as Blackboard), etc. Also, keep in mind that computers can crash, so be sure to save all of your work on flash drives (or use cloud storage) and have a back-up plan if you can't use your computer for a couple of days.
Online courses sometimes entail classroom meetings. Before you sign up to take an online class, you need to be aware of whether or not your class requires any on-campus attendance. For some online courses, you may have to physically attend lab meetings or testing sessions.
E-learning can be very convenient and beneficial, but before you sign up, make sure that you know what aspects are involved. Keep in mind that being an active and self-motivated student will help you succeed in online courses.