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How to Decide if an Online Class is Right for You
Online education is the 21st century term used to describe what we used to call “distance learning,” an academic effort that dates back to the 1840s. The introduction of personal computing and internet technologies has thoroughly modernized distance education; in 2017, the United States Department of Education estimated that 6.6 million students were enrolled in e-learning courses, and many of them planned to complete their college degree programs by taking online classes.
Despite the widespread enrollment of students who choose to take online classes, academic analysis shows that not everyone will benefit from this style of learning, and this may explain the high dropout rate in some courses and degree programs. One of the programs in this regard is that prospective students are misinformed about what online learning is about. In some cases, students will need to take some steps to ensure their success when taking online classes. Let’s review a few things you should know about online education before you register.
Access to Hardware and Internet Services
Even though e-learning providers strive to create online education platforms that are widely accessible to all students, the last thing you want is to be surprised that you do not meet the minimum system requirements to take online classes after you have registered. While it is true that most online classes are delivered by means of web browsers, your desktop, laptop, or mobile device must be able to support a reasonably modern version of the browser. Online classes that require video conferencing sessions may require specific apps that will not work if the video drivers of your operating system cannot be upgraded.
Online Education Success is Proportional to Personal Effort
We previously mentioned high dropout rates for e-learning courses. This unfortunate statistic is largely caused by how easy it is to abandon online classes; unlike the traditional classroom experience, there is virtually no peer pressure with e-learning outside of students worrying about tuition costs. There is also the matter of self-paced courses with open or rolling deadlines; you really need to set reasonable and disciplined goals to ensure that you do not end up abandoning your online classes.
If you are a working professional or someone whose family obligations take up considerable time, online classes will offer a great advantage over the classroom experience. Let’s say you have to take care of children or relatives in addition to working a full-time job; having to attend classes at a campus before or after work can make your life extremely difficult. With online classes, particularly those that allow you to pace yourself, the burden is significantly reduced because you will be able to make your own schedule without having to sacrifice work hours or time with your family.
Self-Assessment Before Taking Online Classes
Once you have determined that you have the equipment and broadband internet connection to take online classes, ask yourself the following questions:
* Can I motivate myself to complete the curriculum and assignments?
* Will I be able to express myself with confidence with just a screen and a keyboard? Keep in mind that many online college classes, especially those that deal with humanities and social sciences, require online discussion.
* Am I really good at online communications? Think about your attitudes towards email, social media platforms, online chat, and internet messaging. If you are not comfortable with internet communications, you may need a period of adjustment; however, most people get used to it very quickly.
* Can I get organized and plan things ahead?
* Will I be able to get through digital video lectures?
The reality of online classes is that most students have everything they need to get started. The most challenging aspect is self-motivation when faced with flexible courses you can complete at your own pace. Chances are that you are ready to take online classes; just be sure to set realistic goals and make a commitment to both learning and completing the curriculum.
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