Online Learning – Is it for You?

mistake dog

There comes a time for us all when we realize we have made a slight miscalculation. Perhaps you underestimated the time it will take to arrive safely to your destination and due to traffic you walk into the office noticeably late for your annual review. Oops!  Maybe you overestimate the amount of energy and stamina you have and end up crawling out of a spin class at your local gym. What about the time you signed up for an online class and you quickly realized it was not what you thought it would be, at times frustrating, and more difficult than you’d planned.  Sound familiar?

Even though distance learning has been around for over 20+ years, there are still a number of misconceptions about what is now called “elearning”.  Some of the more common ones include:

  •      I am good at computers so I’ll be great at online courses
  •      A online course is easier than a face to face course.
  •      I can do an online course anytime I want to.
  •      Taking an online course is an easy A.

While it is true that good technology skills are a bonus while taking online courses, there are other things crucial to success such as noncognitve skills like good time management skills and self-motivation.  Some students believe online courses will be easier but in actuality they tend to be somewhat harder.  If you sit in a classroom and hear a lecture but choose not to engage or take notes, chances are you will obtain at least some knowledge of the material.  However, if you stare at a computer screen on your LMS homepage or glance at a discussion question, it’s a guarantee that you will not learn anything.  Therefore, to be successful you are required to be more engaged in online courses than in face to face.  Time is a big issue with online courses. Perpectual procrastinators are sure to get behind quick. Many times students operate under the assumption an online course can be done in their “free time” or on their own schedule.  While it is true online classes provide flexibility, most instructors require you to log a certain length of time for course work and/or login at specific times to participate in live chats or class discussions. Often times you hear of a student taking an easy course to improve their GPA.  That’s not the same thing as taking an online course.  A student should consider carefully their time and commitment to learning in a new environment which can present challenges.  Not only is the student learning content but depending on how new they are to the online environment, they may also be learning how to navigate, use technology, and turn assignments in electronically all at the same time.  A decision not to be taken lightly.