Distance Education/e-Learning - Making it work for you!
Distance/e-Learning courses offer endless amounts of conveniences. Students can learn in the comfort of their home, office or from the other side of the world. The flexibility of “wherever and whenever” is quite appealing. Along with the conveniences students take on additional responsibilities with these types of courses; there are computing components, independent learning skills and administrative items to handle. These are the type of challenges that distance/e-learning students face. Students should spend some time assessing if these types of challenges will work with their own learning style and life situations.
Answer below the list of questions that students should ask themselves. Your answers can identify your strengths and challenges. Distance/e-Learning can be for everyone. Please take the time and ensure you master any challenges in order for you to have the best possible experience.
How are my time management skills? Time-management and study skills are very important in an online course. It's hard to catch up once you've fallen behind. You'll also have group members depending upon your regular participation, and assignment deadlines to keep in mind. But if you follow the instructors suggested weekly schedule, you can stay on schedule.
Will I be able to initiative for my own learning? In an online course, you'll need to be comfortable with an instructor in the role of course manager/guide rather than lecturer. You'll be absorbing information from readings, from discussions, and from asking questions. You will need to initiate the assistance or communication you need. Ask for help from your instructor or TA, from classmates, or from the distance education/technical support.
Can I schedule approximately 10-15 hours of study time per week for each course? When you study online it's easier for other activities to take priority and keep you from getting to your course work. An online course is more convenient, however not easier. Online courses often require more time than a lecture on campus because you are responsible for managing your learning.
Am I comfortable expressing my thoughts in writing? In an online course, you may be asked to write defensively and argue thoughts and issues as you communicate in the discussion area. You'll need to be ready to share and post your thoughts and opinions with your fellow students in a respectful manner. A beneficial aspect about asynchronous discussions and email is that you can take the time to think about what you are writing.
Do I have regular access to a computer and the Internet? Students will be required to log into the course website on a regular basis. All academic work and communications will be located there so it is important to log in almost every day.
Am I open to learning some new web related skills? In order to participate in your online course, you'll need to feel comfortable navigating the course website by using a browser, email, discussions, chats/wikis and assessment tools. You don't need to be technically experienced before you start your course–you'll have the chance to learn and practice these skills as you participate in your course.
Remember, these are guidelines to help you think about the skills you'll need. They will help you prepare to become a successful online learner.