How to Tell if Online Learning Would Work for You

Online learning is growing in leaps and bounds each year. From college degrees, advanced certificates or just one or two classes, students are finding online learning a favorable alternative to the traditional classroom setting. If online learning sounds like an option you would like to try, evaluate your strengths and weaknesses before you sign up so you can see if online learning would work for you.

Students who work online must be self-directed learners. Procrastinators can have trouble organizing enough time to get work done because they think they can just sign on the computer whenever they have a spare moment. Think back to the last few deadlines you had. If you were rushing around at the last second to finish your work, then online learning may leave you feeling frazzled. There will not be a teacher standing over you making sure you finish assignments. If you are a person who needs someone reminding them constantly about finishing work or staying on task then online learning might be a challenge for you. You need organization and motivation when learning online.

Discussions and assignments utilize email, class boards and forums. Online learners must be comfortable with their writing skills and writing messages available for the entire class to view. Some correspondence is between the professor and student only, but most of the class is conducted in a discussion format utilizing discussion boards. You should also be comfortable with computer technology and different computer programs. Most online classes let you use a basic word processing program and certain spreadsheet programs. Depending on the class, you may need to familiarize yourself with something new, and the easier you learn computer programs the faster you can start completing assignments. A reliable Internet connection is also necessary for enrolling in an online course. If you must travel to the library or a friend’s house for Internet access, you limit the amount of time you can work on assignments.

Sitting in a classroom can get tedious at times, but some students thrive on the classroom environment. If you have never experienced online learning, you may find that you miss the classroom environment and peer interaction. Assess how much you enjoy going to classes and discussing things with other students and your teacher. If you are very social, you may feel isolated at home working on assignments. You might consider taking only one class online and doing the rest of the classes at school.

Busy parents need to assess how much free time they have around the house. Online learning is ideal for many parents juggling work, family and school. But if your house is comfortably chaotic, finding time to get online and complete assignments might be tough. If your computer is in a shared space, you also need to consider how much time other family members need the computer.

If possible, set up a computer schedule for each family member before your online class starts. This way, you are not fighting with anyone to get off the computer so you can take a test. It also helps if you keep a running log so family members can request special, unscheduled computer time for unexpected work. With a little planning, online learning is doable for everyone and provides the benefit of being able to complete an education at home.