Thinking of opting for an online course next term? These digital classrooms are great options for busy schedules and offer a convenient alternative for students who can’t easily make it to campus. While online classes can offer a great academic experience, make sure you know what to expect before jumping in. Here are a few things to consider before making your decision.
1. They’re not easier than their in-person counterparts.
Some people jump at the chance for an online class because they believe it’ll be much easier than taking the course in a classroom. We can see why this is a common belief! There’s no professor watching you to see if you’re alert and paying attention, and you can easily search Google during any exams and quizzes, right?
Actually, it’s not as easy as you might think. Online courses are specifically designed with these things in mind. Your professor might forgo an actual exam and assign projects instead, or — if they do give out exams — the questions won’t be something you can just find in a search engine, and they may even use software that protects your academic integrity (so, no cheating!). Plus, even if you choose to flip the TV on during your lecture and zone out, that just means there’s more material you’ll have to teach yourself once the exam rolls around. That’s not exactly easier, is it?
2. They require quite a bit of organization and time management.
Online courses are great because they allow much more flexibility — pretty convenient if you’re balancing a job or other time-consuming responsibilities! Keep in mind, though, that you’ll need to hold yourself accountable for finding time to complete all the assignments. This is a bit trickier when you’re not on a set class schedule! Planners, digital reminders, and other organizational tools are a must for online courses.
3. You will interact with your classmates.
A lot of online classes use discussion boards that you’ll have to participate in for credit, so you can bet you’ll get to know at least a few of your classmates. On top of that, some online classes even assign group projects! Video chat features and collaborative software like Google Docs make this possible, and actually fairly common.
4. Your relationship with the professor is important.
Online classes aren’t just a case of viewing the lecture on your laptop then calling it a night. Just like a physical class, you should really make an effort to get to know your professor — they’re your best resource, after all! Don’t be afraid to shoot some emails back and forth with your professor when you have questions.
5. They can be just as valuable as a course in a physical classroom.
A lot of people assume that learning remotely isn’t as valuable as having a physical classroom. This really isn’t true! These courses are designed with your success in mind, so there are plenty of tools in place that will help you succeed. Make sure to utilize all the resources you’re given — discussion boards, study guides, etc. — and you’ll gain a lot from your experience.