We encourage you to consider online learning as an option for completing your coursework, but remember that online learning is not necessarily for everyone. Please take a few moments and review the guidelines below that illustrate the set of characteristics that online learners typically have in common.
Doing well requires self-discipline.
While you may find the convenience of doing course work as you find time, there may be a tendency to put work off because you are not in a classroom, with the instructor watching and telling you that you need to finish before the end of class.
You must discipline yourself to ensure that you keep up on all assignments and not let yourself fall behind. Because, if you do let yourself fall behind, you will end up with so much to do near the end of the semester that you will, in all likelihood, not be able to catch up.
Online courses require lots of interaction by the students.
Unlike in the classroom, you cannot "hide." You cannot be a passive learner. When discussion questions are posted, everyone is expected to respond, and if a discussion thread develops among several students, others are expected to join in. (In fact, in this particular course all students are required to respond to all discussion questions, and final grades will reflect the amount and quality of those responses.) So, there is no opportunity to "coast" through an online course. You must be prepared to work hard to succeed.
Successful online students share several characteristics.
Students who work well in an online learning environment are self-disciplined, self-motivated, independent, proactive learners. Because they do not have the same kind of immediate deadlines familiar to those taking classroom-based courses, students who tend to procrastinate are seldom successful in a distance format. And those who tend to glide through a course, taking the path of least resistance, not participating in discussions, also find online courses difficult.
Access to the instructor is not limited to face-to-face encounters in the classroom or office.
The asynchronous nature of communication which is basic to the design and delivery of an online course is also at the heart of communication. Students may send messages (questions, concerns, etc.) to their professor at any time. The professor, then, may respond to those emails when they are opened. Professors have a different policies regarding how often they check and respond to email, so be sure to check each professor's syllabus for that policy.
Students and/or the instructor may experience problems in accessing or transmitting material. It is the nature of technology not to work occasionally. Should students experience problems, they need to be ready with a back-up plan. They should contact the instructor, perhaps by phone, ASAP. When an instructor fails to receive material from a student, the natural tendency is to assume that the student did not do the work. Students are responsible to make sure their work is successfully delivered or to let the instructor know that there was a problem and, then, if necessary, work with the instructor to devise an alternate plan to submit the material.
When Kathleen R. McElvenney was laid off from her job with an insurance company after 26 years of employment, she embraced the change as an opportunity to pursue a career she always wanted.