Many people have the false belief that taking a course completely online is easier than taking a traditional face-to-face class. While online learning brings flexibility, it also requires an extremely large amount of self-motivation, time-management, and a certain comfort level in the use of technology.
Do you have time?
The average hours needed to devote to a 4 credit course per week depends on the length of the term. Here are the averages:
- 16 week term = five to nine hours a week
- 8 week term = 10 to 18 hours a week
- 4 week term = 20 to 36 hours a week
Do you have adequate technology skills?
The online student needs to be very good at using email, web browsers, word-processing software, and file handling. Can you do the following:
- Create a file, save it, and then retrieve it later.
- Attach a file to an email.
- Install and update your own software.
Are you self-directed?
You will need to set a schedule for study and stick to it. Although the time of day or night you work on your course work is flexible assignment and course deadlines are not. Also, online students often study at times when a faculty or fellow course-mate is unavailable for real-time communication. As an online student you will need to:
- Have excellent time-management skills and ward off procrastination.
- Ask clarifying questions of professors and classmates well before an assignment is due so to allow for the time it takes for a response via email.
- Be able to research outside information that may help your understanding of a topic.
Do you enjoy reading and writing
It is crucial to the online student's success to be able to read, comprehend, and then communicate through writing their understanding of the materials. Your online courses may include:
- Complete text readings
- Two-way communication through graded topic discussions
- Weekly written assignments
- Essay test questions