Taking a distance learning, fully online course is quite different than attending a traditional course taught in a classroom. A "yes" answer to most of the following questions indicates that online courses may be right for you.
Many courses require you to view and even download to your computer large text files, images and video that require broadband access. Therefore you must have unrestricted access to an updated or newer desktop or laptop computer and a broadband Internet connection.
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 compose a message to inform the instructor. Good typing skills also are a plus.
In most cases, you must "check in" to your online course site and participate several times a week. This can include working alone or with teammates on assignments, participating in discussions or group projects, and initiating and responding to e-mail. Online courses require you to access the Internet routinely and apply a disciplined approach to managing course work.
Much of the material you're required to read for an online course also is online, and you must read it carefully. Many students print out resources, notes and presentations to read and review offline, requiring access to a printer. 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.
One of the major reasons students register for online classes is for the convenience of being able to take the course without having to come to campus at a specific time. Do keep in mind you still must spend about the same amount of time on coursework as for any normal academic class.
It's often tempting to wait until the last minute. A self-paced course requires good time management skills. With online courses, it's better to get your work done ahead of time so if problems do occur, personal or technical, they can be resolved prior to the deadline.
Taking an online course may require you to purchase, install and learn new software applications on your own.
It's necessary that you be familiar with basic computer functions like copying and pasting text from one location to another. As with any computer application, saving your work by backing up important files is a necessity in case of a software crash or hardware problem. To improve your basic computer skills, an online tutorial is available via Net Tutor
(Content retrieved from the Ohio State University on April 21, 2009)
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