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Should I Take Online Classes?

Online classes are different from face-to-face classes and may be different from what you imagine them to be. Consider the following before you register for an online class:

Are you comfortable on the computer and on the Internet? 

To be successful in an online learning environment you should be comfortable working online. You will need to have a fairly up-to-date computer and access to a reliable, high speed internet connection. You will need to use email and word processing software such as MS Word. Your online class will require you to use a course management system called Brightspace/D2L and possibly other course software. This software is easy to learn but you have to be willing to put in the effort.

Do you really have time to commit to an online course? 

Online courses provide great flexibility—you can do your work late at night or sitting on the beach. However, online courses do require a substantial time commitment. Add together the hours that you normally sit in a classroom plus the hours that you would devote to homework in a traditional class. This is the minimum time commitment that you should set aside for an online class.

Are you good at managing your time? 

Flexibility also brings responsibility. You must be able to stick to a regular study routine and not procrastinate. It is up to you to set a schedule that includes time to logon to your class and keep up-to-date with reading assignments, quizzes, discussions boards, papers, and exams. Not every course will have all of these, but they will have a combination of many of these. Your coursework will have deadlines throughout the semester and you will have to work those deadlines into your schedule. It is important to avoid the “out of sight-out of mind” problem that so many students face with online courses.

Do you have access to a quiet time and place for studying?

Having a quiet time and space for studying are even more important with online courses. In a traditional class you are focusing on the course at every class meeting. In online classes, you have to create a time and location that is free of distractions so you can get your work done.

Are you a self-motivated student? 

With online courses, you'll have an instructor to guide you, but you will not be face-to-face with someone each week who will remind you of homework, quizzes, etc. It is up to you, to remind yourself to do your work. In online courses you may find yourself trying to figure out things on your own. You will need to keep trying but you will also need to recognize when to seek help and be willing to contact the instructor when you are lost or confused about the course.

Are you good at written communications?

Most all of the work in online classes will be written. Can you write clearly and concisely? Are you comfortable communicating with your classmates in writing through emails and on discussion boards? Remember that in online classes, there won’t be non-verbal clues to aid you in communication. You also need to make sure you understand what methods of communication are available for communicating with both your classmates and your teacher.

Still not sure? 
One common piece of advice is to start by taking a course in a subject that is usually easy to you. This will introduce you to online learning but through a course that has content with which you are comfortable.