There are many benefits to online learning. For instance, you can work on a course offered in another state without having to travel, at your best time of day to learn. However, not everyone is aware that online classes can require a different level of motivation and self-direction than face-to-face classes. There often is no specific time you need to work on the course, whereas in a face-to-face class you know that you need to be there at a specific time on a specific day. If you do not make your course a priority, you can easily get behind.
Make sure that when you sign up for an online class, you have allotted a few hours each week to work on it. Most of SVRI’s courses are short-term; for example, 10 hours of work over 5 weeks, so you can anticipate spending about 2 hours a week on this example course. If your employer is sponsoring you to take it, discuss ahead of time whether your workload will allow you to complete the course in addition to your duties or if you will have to complete the course after work. If you may be working out of town, ensure that you will have Internet access so you can continue working or be ready to work on it over the weekend at home.
Here are some basic questions to help you determine if you are ready for online learning. You should be able to honestly agree with most, if not all, of the following statements:
- I do not already feel overwhelmed with all of my time commitments (personal and professional).
- I usually do not procrastinate.
- I have convenient access to a computer and the Internet (preferably with a high-speed connection).
- My computer skills are at least average or I have support available.
- I can write typed messages without a lot of difficulty (physically or with assistive technology).
- I do not mind reading (visually or with assistive technology).
- I do not mind spending time in front of the computer.
- I do not mind asking questions by e-mail or phone when I have a problem.
Here are some more advanced questions. If you answer yes to these, online learning should definitely be a good fit for you.
- I’m able to set my own deadlines and stick to them.
- I often think of what to say after a conversation has ended.
- I organize my ideas better in writing than in spoken conversation.
- I read very quickly.
- I’ve learned how to do something from reading a book.
- I’m often on the computer and enjoy using it for leisure.
- I think that sharing my experiences with and learning from people all over the United States would be beneficial.
Hopefully, this quiz hasn’t scared you off from online learning! The goal of this exercise is just to make you aware of some of the concerns people have with online courses but don’t realize until they’ve started. If now is not the right time for you to take an online course, check back later when your schedule is more accommodating.