Online courses can be an effective and rewarding way to meet your educational goals while allowing some flexibility in your schedule. Success in these courses, however, will require a certain amount of time and dedication. Here are a few tips to help you decide if an online course will be right for you.
- Online courses take a lot of time. Expect to spend at least as much time working on an online course as you would for an on-campus course (it likely will require more time).
- Read the syllabus carefully and thoroughly. Make sure you understand the course expectations. If anything is unclear, ask for clarification.
- You must read the assigned text. Keep notes as you read. If there are points you do not understand, ask your instructor for clarification.
- Active participation in the course is crucial. A discussion board or other avenues of interaction will be required in an online course. Your participation will be required.
- Do not fall behind. Staying current in your online course is of the utmost importance. Playing catch-up is difficult in any course, but is even more difficult in an online course.
- Discipline is a must. Do not allow yourself to get distracted from your work in an online course. Plan ahead. Set a schedule for yourself and stick to it.
- If you do not have the necessary computer skills, then you must be willing to work harder to gain those skills. It is your responsibility to have the computer skills necessary to be successful in an online course. If you do not have those skills, you might want to reconsider taking the course online. If you decide to take the course without the necessary skills, you must be prepared to spend even more time working in the course until you teach yourself the necessary skills.
- You must be able to effectively communicate in writing. The online learning environment primarily utilizes written communication. You should be clear, detailed and succinct in your written communication. You must also be willing to share your personal experiences, questions, thoughts, opinions, etc. with your classmates and your instructor.
- The burden for learning and success is on you. Your instructor cannot make you learn. The instructor can design the course and provide the appropriate material to assist you in learning. But you, and only you, control whether or not you actually learn anything. This means you must take the initiative to ask the instructor questions if you do not understand a point. You must engage your classmates in meaningful discussion. You must take the time to read the chapters and compete all assignments and exams. You need to read the syllabus carefully to make sure you understand what the expectations are. Then, you must have the drive to fulfill those expectations.