When making a decision about online learning, you are in the best position to know whether it fits your personal learning style and life style. Consider the following questions:
Do you have self-discipline and motivation? Unlike traditional courses in which the students and instructor meet face-to-face, most of the learning activities and communication in an online course are asynchronous, meaning that class members participate and complete their assignments at different times throughout the day and week. This arrangement makes it possible for you to do your class work when it's most convenient for you. However, without the structure of regular class meetings, it will be up to you to pace yourself and keep up with assignments.
Can you commit time each day or week to your online courses? Online courses often require at least as much, if not more, time and commitment than traditional courses. Completing course assignments can take from 5 to 15 hours or more per week. And you may need to be online almost every day. Before enrolling, set aside enough time to keep up with your daily or weekly assignments.
Do you have good communication skills and enjoy expressing your ideas in writing? In online courses, nearly all communication is written. If you feel that you are weak in this area, try to brush up on your writing skills and find out how much writing is required for the course before enrolling.
Do you feel comfortable discussing problems with your instructors? If you are having problems with the technology or the course content, you need to let your instructor know. Remember that many of the non-verbal cues that you use in the classroom to show frustration, boredom or confusion (such as a yawn or a look of bewilderment) are not possible in an online class unless they are explicitly expressed in writing.
Will you miss the experience of sitting in a classroom? While the level of interaction can be very high in online courses, it is not the same as face-to-face interaction. Some online students miss seeing their instructor and classmates. If you feel that a traditional classroom is essential for learning, online classes may not be right for you.
If you have the right qualities to be a successful online student, taking online courses is a very convenient and rewarding way to learn. If your answers to the above questions are not in favor of online learning, reconsider this option.
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