Guest Author - Susan D. Bates
There are many advantages to taking courses online. Some of the advantages of online education over a traditional classroom education include having a more flexible class schedule, the ability to take courses not offered at a nearby location, and not having to commute. Many students do well with online learning and enjoy the experience. However, online courses are not for everyone. Below is a list of questions that you should ask yourself before deciding to enroll in online courses.
Do I have or can I obtain a computer with all of the required software?
To complete online courses, students will need to have a computer that has enough memory and a fast enough processor to complete the work. Colleges usually list specific minimum computer requirements for their courses.
Most colleges also require that students have Microsoft Office software. Some of the specific software programs that are generally required include Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. Depending on the student’s program and courses there may be other additional required software as well.
Do I have a high-speed and reliable Internet connection?
Most online courses require high-speed Internet connections. Most dial-up connections are not fast enough to support the learning management systems used in online courses.
Internet connections must also be reliable. You would not want to have to worry about having an Internet disruption during a test.
Do I have strong computer skills and am I comfortable using the Internet?
Online students must have the ability to use and navigate the Internet. This includes being able to send and download attachments through email. Students must also have keyboarding and word processing skills.
Do I enjoy learning through written materials?
Some students prefer learning through traditional classroom instruction where they can listen to lectures in person and interact with instructors and other students. This type of learning is not typically part of online learning. Students may be able to listen to lectures and participate in Internet discussions; however, online learning is a different environment than traditional classroom. Online students must be comfortable in the online classroom environment.
To be successful, students must be strong readers and have strong written communication skills. They must be able understand written instructions, learn from textbooks and other written materials, and be able to communicate well in writing.
Do I have strong time management skills?
Students must have enough time to be able to devote to their schoolwork (usually 9 – 12 hours per course each week). They must be able to create and keep a schedule.
After you have answered the questions above, you can better assess if online learning will be a good fit for you. If you have answered "no" to any of the questions on the list may want to make learn the corresponding skills or make life adjustments before enrolling in online courses.