The number, variety, and quality of online educational opportunities available has grown exponentially in the past 5 years. This expands the number and types of people who can benefit from such programs, but are these programs for you?
Quality online education is at the cutting edge, taking advantage of broadband technology, engaging multimedia tools and putting vast amounts of reliable information at the fingertips of each and every student. However, in order for a student to get the most of these online opportunities they need to keep a few points in mind.
1. Online courses aren’t always cheap. Since an online course is intangible a student might expect it to be cheap, thinking “it’s not like I am getting something I can hold, right?” Good quality courses require hundreds of hours of research, planning, designing and programming, followed by testing, marketing, and the work of a committed faculty. Moreover, remember that the students are not having to drive to campus, stay at a dorm, or buy lunch at a dingy but overpriced cafeteria to attend such courses so your costs are greatly reduced.
2. You are the boss. Even though online courses essentially put you on the front row of the virtual lecture room so there is no obstruction from bobbing heads or distractions from rowdy classmates, only you can decide to log on and “attend” class. This means that online courses require you to have the initiative to get yourself online every day.
3. Bring your own classroom. Now you are responsible for the quality of the classroom, not the school. Be sure you have a reliable internet connection and create a quiet, protected space with good lighting and air circulation, void of distractions or temptations, and that is overall conducive to your kind of studying. It may be necessary for you to ask the people around you to respect your online sessions.
4. You’ll need to carve the time. Attending to a physical school requires much more planning than completing an online course. This is a huge advantage of the online course but it can also be deceptive. The catch is that you must be a self-starter with enough discipline to log on often. In between “doing it before lunch” and “right after dinner” days may go by without having done any work. So make sure you, literally, write down the work sessions you have planned on your diary and stick to them religiously. Electronic reminder and alarms can help keep you on the right track.
5. Commitment. Because of the previously mentioned points you must be committed and motivated to the course you wish to complete. If you take it seriously and remember why you are doing it then an online program will fit into your life much better than any physical course ever could, you’ll complete rapidly, and you will have gotten a great deal out of it!