Is Online Learning Right for Me?

Distance learning courses are not for everyone. They require a unique commitment from the student. Good time management skills, initiative, motivation, and self-discipline are essential for success in this environment. Distance learning courses are not easier or harder than on-campus courses, but they do require a special kind of dedication and initiative.

We strongly advise that you thoughtfully consider whether it is right for you and examine your learning preferences before taking a DL course to see if this mode of learning is right for you. Take our Smartermeasure Assessment Test to help you decide if distance learning suits your individual learning preferences.

Time Management and Online Considerations

  • Study all course content the instructor has available for you.
  • ALL web enhanced and hybrid courses require on-campus class meetings. Check the printed or online schedule for required class meetings.
  • Take a moment to "bookmark" in your browser(s) the first time you access it. This will help you locate your online classroom(s) quickly every time.
  • Allocate at least the same amount of time each week for an online course as you would for a campus course. The time needed will be approximately 3-4 hours per credit per week so for a 3 credit course expect to spend at least 9 hours on the reading and assignments.
  • Make sure you cover all of the material in the course Web site as well as the textbook and other resources.
  • Make contacts among your fellow students, forming study groups if possible or preferable.
  • Look at your lesson the first day it is available. You may want to print it out or download the pages. That way if there is a problem with your connection, you can still work on it offline. Read through the lesson and see if you have any questions. If you do, contact your instructor immediately.
  • Many online courses require that work be completed every week. It is necessary to review the course syllabus, calendar for these dates.

Asking Questions

  • Read the course introduction/syllabus for your online class carefully to find out how you should ask questions. Some instructors will ask you to post all questions to a class discussion forum while others will ask you to email them directly to the instructor.
  • Identify how or when you can contact your instructor for office hour appointments.
  • Log on to your online classroom several times a week so that you can take part in online discussions and read all messages in a timely manner.

Mail, Email, and Chat

Email, chat, and class discussion boards are the primary forms of communication between the instructor and students as well as among students. Keep a copy of all correspondence you send to your instructor. You may want to "cc" yourself. That way you will know that the mail is being delivered.
Netiquette in email messaging and discussion board posting:

  • Choose your words carefully. It is easy to sound brusque or even nasty when all the other person sees is a typed message. Humor is more difficult to convey in a message.
  • Proofread your email messages and discussion board postings before sending or posting them. The more accurate your messages, the more likely they'll be understood. Use proper spelling and grammar.
  • Do not use "chat-speak," the abbreviations common to social online chatrooms, such as BTW = "by the way."  Your Blackboard Learn class site is an academic environment. Please communicate accordingly.
  • A message written with all capital letters is viewed as shouting. Most people will find this offensive.

Homework and Assignments

You may be asked to send files in Blackboard Learn by uploading these files in the Assignment area of the course site. Read the instructions carefully on those pages.

Technology Preparation

Students are responsible for their own computers and software needed for the class. In the event that your computer breaks down during the semester, have an alternate plan. For example, you might use a computer in an open lab on campus, use a friend or relative's computer, or go to the public library.

Note: You will need Internet Explorer 9, Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox 2.x and you must enable popups for the Blackboard Learn site.