Online courses can work for any student but
there are qualities and characteristics of online courses that make them better suited
for some learners than others. To see if online classes are right for you, ask yourself a
few questions. Are you comfortable working at a computer? Taking an online class means
you will be working and reading at a computer for several hours a week. Do you have reliable
access to a computer and the internet from home? This is not required but, needing to
go to the library or a computer lab will severely limit your participation and success. Are
you comfortable using the internet and can you work online without becoming distracted?
Research is showing that a common characteristic of successful online learners is fluency in
online learning technologies as well as the ability to efficiently work on the internet
without getting distracted by online socializing. Do you have time to take this class? Don’t
assume online classes are easier. Online classes are a popular choice for busy students. Many
students find them easier to fit into their schedules. But, taking an online class requires
just as much time and effort as a class on campus, maybe even more! A four credit class
on campus would have four hours of classroom meetings each week, plus study time outside
of class. Be prepared to put in the same amount of time with an online class. Can you stay
motivated to meet deadlines? Many students appreciate the freedom of online learning.
However, some find it uncomfortable. The subject matter and assignments in online courses are
the same as in face-to-face sections, but in a way, you are teaching yourself the material.
Online classes are not the same as self-paced classes. Online learning requires self-direction
and self-regulation. You will be required to meet deadlines and participate in class
discussions. If the absence of a traditional class structure causes you to lose the motivation
to keep going it will be difficult to succeed. Are you comfortable asking for help? Effective
communication is critical to success in the classroom but even more so in an online environment.
It is essential that you be proactive in communicating with your instructor. He or she wants you
to succeed, but it can be difficult to know when a student is struggling in an online
environment unless they ask for help. You need to be comfortable initiating contact
with your instructor for help quickly and as often as necessary. Did you answer “yes”to
most of these questions? Then online courses might be right for you. Even if you didn’t,
you can still do well in an online course, but it may require additional commitment on
your part. For more information, please contact the Department of Writing Studies.