The concept of earning a degree online is a relatively new one for many prospective students, however, it can be an amazing opportunity to learn from home and keep the flexibility a virtual classroom offers. If you don’t know what to expect though, online learning can be a bit tricky. Here are 7 things you should know about online learning before you pursue this option.
1. Know your learning style.
Some students work very well on independent study projects. Other students need one-on-one time with an instructor. Both learning styles are valid however, students who require a considerable amount of interaction with the instructor and other classmates may not enjoy online learning. Students who require minimal face time with an instructor will find online courses a perfect fit. They can also proceed at a pace that is comfortable with them.
2. Understand course requirements.
Students who are not strong in math should consider taking remedial courses before signing up for algebra or calculus. Students considering a foreign language course online should understand how and when oral interaction would occur in order to perfect his pronunciation.
3. Understand computer requirements.
If a course requires online videoconferencing, a student should ensure that his computer has the appropriate hardware and software to meet this requirement. Students should be aware of the amount of Internet time required. For those students who rely on a public computer system, such as those located in public libraries, Internet time may be rationed.
4. Plan your degree.
Just as students pursuing a degree in a brick-and-mortar institution, online students should take the time to plan the coursework required to complete a degree. The wide range of courses available online makes it tempting to try a variety of classes. Students should consider an online learning experience that includes an academic advisor in order to stay on track and complete a degree in a timely manner.
5. Manage your time.
Online courses require excellent time management skills. Some courses require chat room sessions; other courses may include video conferencing. Students must prepare for interactions and assignments, allowing ample time for contact with the instructor via email. Students pursuing a degree while working should be prepared to work on coursework in the evenings and on weekends.
6. Prepare for emergencies.
Computers do crash. Internet connections fail. Adverse weather conditions cause interruptions to electrical service. While it is impossible to prepare for every contingency, students should have a secure method of backing up course work. They should be prepared to find an alternative method of connecting to the Internet and powering computers.
7. Know how and when you can ask for help.
Does the instructor have online office hours during which students can make appointments? Does the instructor answer email questions? If so, what is his time frame for returning his response?
This is a guest post from Erin Smith. Erin is a contributing writer at onlinerntobsndegress.com, a site specializing in online rn to bsn degree programs and all aspects of online learning.