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Are you thinking about taking an online course or several online courses? 
Consider the following four statements before you decide to take an online course:

1.   I want to take this course because

A. it is very important for my degree program or my job
B. my friends are taking the course also
C. I'm interested in the subject, but I have no deadline to complete it

If you have a strong motivation to complete your course,you will do well.  If not, you may want to take it at another time.


2. When course work gets tough and I don't want to study,

A. my significant other/parents/children/friends encourage me to keep going.
B. my significant other/parents/children/friends are not concerned.
C. my significant other/parents/children/friends discourage me from studying and encourage me to do other things.

If you have a support system, you will be motivated tocomplete your work.  If not, others may interrupt important study time .


3. I have time to study

A. because I do not have a lot of other obligations.  I am able to fit class and study time into my weekly schedule.
B. even though I have other obligations, because I manage my time well.
C. but I have many obligations which may take priority over my course and study time.

If you can manage your time well, you will find the time to be an active participant in your course .   If you have too many other obligations (job(s), marriage, childcare, parent care, time with friends, other obligations and activities), you may not be able to keep up with your assignments.


4. I can login to my course

A. anytime, because I have unrestricted access to a multimedia computer and an Internet connection at home or a laptop with wireless Internet access.
B. every day, because I will be using a computer at work or in a college computer lab.
C. only at certain times, because I will be using a computer used by other members of the family (or at a public library or at the home of a friend or relative).

If you have appropriate access to a computer and Internet connection on a daily basis during your prime study time, you will enjoy using the course software. If not, you may become discouraged by logistical and technical problems. 

If you have decided that your motivation, support system, available time, and technology access are acceptable, you will need to consider the following issues (and tips) to succeed as an online student.

  • time management
    Managing your time well is the most important factor in your success as an online student. Online courses actually take more time than classroom courses because they involve reading and writing instead of listening andspeaking.  The time that you spent driving to campus. parking, and going to your classroom will now be spent reading and writing.  In online courses discussion postings and email can accumulate quickly.  You need to login every day to keep up with course communication.
  • reading
    Online courses involve a lot of reading.  Information that you would normally hear in a classroom will usually be available for you to read.  If you like to read, have good reading comprehension and read fast you will do very well in an online course.
  • writing
    Online courses involve a lot of writing.  Things that you would normally say in a classroom will usually have to be written so that the instructor and other students can see them.  If you like to write, have good writing skills and can type fast, you will do very well in an online class.
  • self directed learning/monitoring your ownlearning
    In an online course, the instructor is a facilitator, not a lecturer.  You must take the responsibility for your own learning.  Information will be presented in yourt extbook and through lesson content, PowerPoint presentations, video, and Websites.  It is up to you create your own learning path and monitor your own progress.
  • efficiency and organization
    Since you will be directing your own learning, you will do much better if you are efficient and organized.  Knowing the assignment due dates and test dates on the course timeline is very important.  You can add private entries to your course calendar for additional reminders.  Take your tests and hand in assignments early.
  • anxiety and stress/test taking
    Everyone has some anxiety and stress when taking classes, handing in graded assignments, and taking tests.  If you are concerned about the time limits and technology involved in online testing, you may want to ask your instructor if he/she will create a practice test for the students in your class.  The best way to relieve anxiety is to avoid procrastination.  Taking your test early in the test availability period will eliminate the anxiety of a computer crash or power outage at the last minute!
  • adequate prior knowledge
    Your course will be easier if you have prior knowledge of the subject.   Even so, you need to be sure that you have adequate time to read, write, complete assignments, and take tests.
  • willing participation
    It is very important that you post to course discussion as often as possible and send email when necessary.  If you do not communicate, the instructor will think you are lost in cyberspace.  Most instructors will include discussion in their grading structure.
  • patience in communication
    Instructors are not always available 24/7, so you may not receive immediate feedback. Sometimes you will need to wait until the instructor or another student is online to answer a question for you.  You will need to plan ahead to allow for the time lag between questions and answers.
  • working alone/internal motivation
    An online classroom can be a very vibrant learning community if everyone contributes to online discussion.  However, you will still be studying alone at home or in your office and may feel isolated at times.  You will need to have internal motivation to keep on task andavoid interruptions and distractions.  If you like working alone, communicating by writing, and working at your own best time of day, you will do well in an online course.
  • computer skills
    Although you do not have to be a pro at computers to take an online course, you will do better if you are willing to try new things on the computer.  Do not be afraid to click on tabs, buttons, and links and try out tools in your course.  Occasionally you may have a technical problem.  If you cannot solve a technical problem yourself, email your instructor and/or contact WebStudy tech support (support@webstudy.com, 24/7) or RVCC tech support (online@raritanval.edu, weekdays 8:30 am-5:00 pm)
Created by H.Smythe, Instructional Designer, RVCC, 2004, updated 7/6/2011, 7/25/2011 by L.B., 5/13/2014 by HJS

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