Is Online Learning Right for You?
While online education is growing in popularity, it may not be the ideal fit for every student. Some students find learning on campus better at meeting their learning needs and others may find that online courses don't line up with their career goals. To make sure online courses are a good fit for you, it can be useful to take an honest look at how you like to learn and what you want to get out of your online education.
A good first step can be taking the SmarterMeasure self-assessment tool to help you understand your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to online education. Using your score from this test, you will be able to see what aspects of an online course may challenge you and how you can best prepare yourself for online learning.
You should also keep the following points in mind before enrolling in an online course:
Online courses aren't easier.
Just because you aren't going to class every day doesn't mean that an online course will require less work. In fact, online course can actually be more work because you will largely work independently, which comes with some extra responsibility and effort. Students can expect online courses to have the same rigor and expectations as face-to-face courses.
Online courses require the same time investment as traditional courses.
Online courses may be more convenient but they have been designed to take about the same amount of time as you would spend if you were taking traditional class. Aside from the time you save in getting to and from class, you should be putting in the same amount of hours for an online class as you would one on campus.
Use this rule of thumb to estimate how much time your online class will take: for each credit hour, students should expect to spend an additional 2-3 hours a week doing homework, readings and discussions. For example, a 3-credit class would require 3 hours of class time, plus 6-9 hours of study, resulting in 9-12 hours total weekly investment.
For accelerated courses, like those in the 12, 10, 8, or 5-week sessions, students can expect to spend significantly more time per week completing their coursework.
Online courses require strong time management skills.
Tend to fall behind in your coursework and procrastinate? Online courses may pose a challenge to you. While you will not have set class times, you will still need to meet course deadlines for reading, viewing lectures, participating in discussions and handing in assignments. If you feel you won't be able to keep up with this without the structure of weekly class times, then you may want to consider on-campus or hybrid courses instead.
Online courses require some tech savvy.
To excel in online courses, you need to be comfortable using a computer and navigating the Internet. You will need to be able to use a web browser, email and a word processor and understand how to save, send, share and open files in different types of software. Online courses are not responsible for teaching students how to use a computer (save for computer-focused courses), so students must come prepared with these skills. If you don't have these skills right now, don't panic: it is possible to learn many of the required skills before your course begins.
Online courses require active participation.
Online courses aren't a place to hide out. You will be expected to discuss ideas covered in the course and to interact with professors and other students, as most online courses demand engagement and a high level of participation as part of the grade.
These points aren't meant to discourage you from taking online courses, only to help you get a realistic idea of what you can expect from an online course or program of study so that you can prepare yourself and ultimately have a more successful experience as a student at COD.
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