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Online Expectations

Online education courses offers flexibility in terms of when and how long you study.  However, online courses are as rigorous as their classroom based counterparts and this requires students to be self-disciplined and organized. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Time requirements: You should be prepared to devote approximately four to six 6 hours per week to your course.  This includes time to read course materials, research and clarify your understanding of key concepts, participate in online threaded discussion boards, create assignments, and studying for tests. This compares to a traditional classroom course where you would spend three hours in the classroom session and one to three hours studying, reading or working on projects and assignments outside of class.
  2. Scheduling: Although you have flexibility in the day and time that you access your course site, it still takes discipline to stay on top of each week’s readings, assignments and other activities. It’s important to schedule time each week to work on your course. It’s very helpful to discuss your course study time with family and friends so that they respect your study time and don’t distract or take you away from your course work.
  3. Communication: The online environment relies heavily on text.  This means that you must be comfortable communicating with your fellow learners and your instructor by writing your thoughts, questions, experiences, etc. in emails and discussion forums.  You may have the opportunity to interact via web conferencing, audio podcasts, or other tools, but not all courses will utilize these tools.  ALL courses will have email capability available to you.
  4. Being proactive: You must be comfortable actively seeking out help when you need it.  Remember that your teacher has no way of knowing when you have questions, concerns, or are having technical difficulties.
  5. Online Environment: If you do not have a computer at home available to you, you must ensure that you have regular access to a computer, and that the computer has the minimum technical capabilities as specified by your program.  This may include software such as Microsoft Office, hardware such as a printer, and a reliable internet connection.  You should also consider factors such as whether or not you have a quiet area to work in, how much uninterrupted time you have available, and when you will do the reading and research your course allows.

For many, online learning is the ideal solution to professional and personal development in a busy schedule balancing work, family and personal interests. But online learning is not a passive experience. Depending on the course, you can be required to research information, communicate with your classmates, relate your own experiences to the course materials, and critically examine and then discuss the theories presented. You can explore topics that are of interest to you, and connect with others who share these interests.  Because of this, many online students come for the convenience and return for the quality.