All in all, online education sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Taking the steps to change my life situation while I’m still in my pajamas? Being able to work from anywhere? The ability to schedule classes and study sessions around my full time job? Sign me up!
Yes, there are a lot of advantages to online education, but there are also some common difficulties people run into during the course of a class. What are these snags and how can you avoid them? I’m glad you asked!
Timing and time management are really important aspects to consider. With the flexibility inherent in distance education comes the possibility to procrastinate almost indefinitely. In other words, you can wait until the very last minute to do your work. However, when technology is involved that may not be the wisest choice. What if your computer freezes and you lose your work? Or the webcam software isn’t working and you have an arranged Skype meeting with your instructor in three minutes? Or you can’t figure out how to submit your assignment online and the section closes? Any number of disastrous technological problems could happen!
The good news is, most (if not all) these problems can be avoided with a little planning! Familiarize yourself with all of the software, hardware and programs you will be using for your course. If you have any questions about how something works, ask! Remember, ACNS is a great resource for Colorado State University students! Completing assignments at least a day or two before they are due gives you the chance to recover if anything unfortunate does happen to that three page paper (or, at the very least, allows you to give the instructor a heads-up before the assignment is late!). And always remember to save your work at least every fifteen minutes.
Don’t forget that you’re not the only one involved when you’re enrolled in online learning! It’s tempting and sometimes even scary to think no one is watching over you. Initially, your instructor might know even less about you than you know about him/her. Although many students have found that learning at a distance actually fosters more teacher/student interaction than traditional classes, a good relationship and understanding between you and your instructor must be built. That takes time and talk. Introducing yourself via e-mail or chat is a good way to help your instructor put a face with a name.
Also, it is to your advantage to be diligent and inform your instructors about potential problems before they become major issues. That way, when emergencies arise, they have a better understanding of the situation and may be more willing to work with you and your extenuating circumstances. Additionally, do you know the best way to get in contact with your instructor when you have questions or need help? Is he or she readily available through e-mail? Does he or she hold office hours when they’ll answer phone calls? Make sure you know when and how to contact your instructor.
“An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of perspiration.” “A stitch in time saves nine.” “The early bird gets the worm!”
We could probably find several more clichés that reiterate the importance of being proactive, but you get the idea. By staying on top of your work and keeping the lines of communication open with your instructor, you can avoid a lot of headaches and stress when computer problems or life situations arise.
While these are some of the more common pitfalls of online education, you might have a different experience entirely. Share with us some of the struggles you run into with your classes and see what tips you can share with other students! It’s all about YOU!