Determine if Online Learning is Right for You
Taking an online course is different than going to a classroom. A "yes" answer to most of the following questions indicates that online courses may be right for you.
- Do you have reliable access to a computer and the internet?
To be a successful online student, you need to have regular unlimited access to a computer and the internet. At a minimum, we recommend using at least a Pentium II-based PC or a G3 PowerMac machine. You will also need a reliable internet connection. If you experience frequent busy or dropped signals, you may have difficulty completing courses on time and participating in chat sessions.
If you do not have regular unlimited computer access at home, consider whether use of a library or other public access could meet your needs.
- Do you enjoy writing and participating in discussions?
Most communication in an online class consists of written messages between you and the instructor and discussions among class participants. If you have difficulty with an assignment or have questions, you must be willing to "speak up" to inform the instructor. Good typing skills also are a plus.
If you don’t feel comfortable with your online writing skills, consider taking a non-credit online class to practice these skills. Alternatively, CIS105 Keyboarding will provide you with foundational computer usage skills.
- Do you frequently use email and browse the web?
- You must login to your online course and interact several times a week. This can include working on assignments, participating in discussions, and responding to email. If you're not accustomed to routinely accessing the internet, it may be difficult to motivate yourself to do the work. You must be disciplined enough to keep your coursework current.
- Do you read course material carefully?
All of the material you're required to read for this course is online and you must read it carefully. Some students just print out the syllabus and key information to read offline. It's important to realize you can't just skim over the content and be able to have a clear understanding of when assignments are due and what is expected of you.
If you need to work on these skills, consider taking EGL101 College Composition (offered online or on campus).
- Does your schedule make it difficult to attend classes on campus?
One of the major reasons students register for online classes are for the convenience of being able to take the course without having to travel to the course location. Do keep in mind you still must spend about the same amount of time on coursework as for any normal course or workshop.
Consider taking a single course online to prepare you for making the appropriate adjustments to your schedule.
- Do you like to plan ahead and finish assignments a few days ahead of schedule?
It's often tempting to wait until the last minute. If you're a procrastinator, you may have already learned that sometimes things don't work quite as well as you had hoped. With online courses, it's better to get your work done a little ahead of time so if problems do occur, they can be resolved prior to the deadline.
If you struggle with this, consider taking a non-credit online course to get started.
- Do you enjoy solving problems and learning new programs on the computer?
Sometimes learning new programs or applications on the computer can be frustrating if they don't work exactly as you expect. Taking an online course may require you to learn new techniques beyond just email for interacting with other students in the class.
CIS101 Introduction to Computer Concepts will introduce you to new programs.
Equipment and Software Requirements
You will need access to a computer system during your scheduled class time and at other times, as necessary, to complete coursework outside of class. Your computer will need a reliable, high-speed internet connection and either a built-in webcam or a separate webcam with a microphone. Due to incompatibility with our eLearning platform, we do not recommend the use of Chromebooks for online courses.
In general, at a minimum, you will need a web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc.), a reliable internet connection, and access to word processing software. Some classes may require other specialized software.
Qualities of a Successful Web Course Student
Successful web course students are committed to their studies. While web courses offer more flexibility and convenience, they can be more demanding of time and energy than regular courses or workshops. Web course students need to:
- Know how to use technology (e.g., email, use a web browser, learn to navigate through the course).
- Login regularly to participate in the class; at least 3 times per week. Some students login as much as twice a day.
- Commit approximately 6 hours per week.
- Use good time management skills and exercise self-discipline to ensure enough time to study and complete all assignments.
- Take notes as they study.
- Enjoy communicating in writing and reading the writing of others.
- Seek help when problems arise.
- Good communication is an essential element of taking any online course. You must be willing to share your thoughts, experiences, and ideas with the group and carefully consider your responses with professional respect and courtesy.
The above content has been used with permission from the American Library Association.