If you are enrolled in an online degree program or thinking about taking an online course, there are several factors to consider before you get started. Although online courses offer the benefit of flexibility, did you know that they typically require more time and work than a traditional classroom course? Online courses also have a retention rate that is often 10 to 20 percent lower than traditional classes. Keep in mind the following factors to ensure success in your online learning.
Time management is one of the biggest keys to success in online learning. You will need to set a study schedule, which includes time for daily log-ins and work on your class (verify time zone). A minimum of 6 hours per week should be spent per 3 credit hour course – this includes instruction/lectures, readings, and assignments. Find a way to hold yourself accountable to this schedule so that you don’t get behind. It will take strong self-discipline to stick to a daily study schedule and not get distracted from your work and personal commitments.
Are you technology-ready for online learning? You will need access to a computer with Internet, Microsoft Office, Flash or Java programs, and possibly a web camera. In addition, you will need to have the necessary skills to use the technology in order to obtain class information, participate in discussions, and post assignments. Take the technology tutorials before your class begins so that you know how to navigate the classroom platform and ensure you have the necessary software. If unsure, reach out to the technology support office at your institution.
Online courses typically require frequent participation and posting in classroom discussion boards. This shows the instructor that you are learning what is required, but also allows students to hear each other’s opinions and interact, similar to a traditional classroom setting. You will want to connect early with your instructor and classmates to make the most of your online learning experience. Forming that relationship with your instructor is especially important, as you will want to reach out right away if experiencing any difficulty with the course.
Staying motivated is critical in online learning. It’s easy to fall behind as the pace is quick and you’re working on your own schedule without the accountability of a classroom setting. Get your support system in place to help you stay motivated, set goals to keep you committed, and celebrate small successes along the way so that you aren’t tempted to quit.
Online learning offers a great alternative to the traditional classroom. Be sure that you have considered the factors necessary for success. Contact your AthLife Advisor for any questions or concerns related to online learning.