Taking courses online can be challenging, especially at first! Most of us are accustomed to learning in a traditional classroom setting, and while there are numerous similarities, there are also many differences that you should keep in mind as you make your decision.
The advantages are great – increased flexibility allows us to work school into our existing schedule, rather than trying to make our existing schedule flow around class offerings. Many of us balance work, school, family, little league, dance lessons successfully, and we are able to do so because technology brings with it increased flexibility. Online learning provides exciting opportunities for people who are constrained by time, place or other factors.
There are certain traits and characteristics that allow for greater success in an online environment. Below are a few things to remember as you work your way through the process of choosing a learning environment that’s right for you:
- Online and face-to-face courses are equally rigorous. The material in an online course is the same as what is covered in a face-to-face course, and courses are taught by WKU faculty. Transcripts do not note a difference in the delivery mode of the course at WKU.
- Online courses at WKU are delivered via Blackboard, unless otherwise noted. Students chat with other students online, interact with the professor, and upload assignments within the Blackboard system. To learn more about Blackboard or experience it first hand, visit our orientation at http://www.wku.edu/online/orientation.
- It is important to realize that success in an online course requires self-discipline, motivation, organization and you must possess strong written communication skills.
If you have the right qualities to be a successful online student, you will find online learning both convenient and rewarding. We have a short assessment to help you determine if you’re a good candidate for online learning. The Student Readiness Quiz will provide you with feedback and help you make an informed decision.
The readiness quiz provides a few things to consider, but certainly isn’t definitive. Please take some time to reflect on the following questions, as well:
Do you have self-discipline and motivation? Online courses are asynchronous, which means that students participate and complete their assignments at different times throughout the day and week. Asynchronous learning brings increased freedom and flexibility, making it possible for you to complete your course work at a time that’s most convenient for you. However with this increased flexibility comes increased responsibility. Without the structure/accountability of regular class meetings, it is easy to procrastinate, and fall behind in the course. Remember, it is up to you to keep up with assignments.
Are you able to commit time each day or week to your online course(s)? Online courses often require at least as much, if not more time than traditional courses. Completing course assignments and other learning activities can take several hours per week. We recommend checking your blackboard course a minimum of 3 times each week, and you may find that you need to to so almost every day. Make sure you can make this commitment prior to enrolling in the course(s).
Do you have strong written communication skills? In online courses nearly all communication is written, so it is critical that you have strong written communication skills. If you feel that you are weak in this area, try to brush up on your writing skills. You can also contact the Writing Center at WKU, and have them review your work by email. The Learning Center at WKU also provides online tutoring in several subject areas.
Do you feel comfortable asking questions? If you find that you are having difficulty understanding assignments or accessing course materials, you should contact your instructor as soon as possible. Communication is especially important in an online environment, since you do not have the same type of interaction online as you do in a traditional classroom setting. If you do not ask questions, the instructor will never know there is a problem.
Are you reasonably comfortable using computers and the Internet? A personal computer is required for online courses. You do not need to be an expert, nor do you need a high-tech computer, but you do need to have some basic technology skills, such as word processing and using a Web browser. You also need regular access to a computer with an Internet connection. For more information on hardware and software requirements click here.
Always remember, we’re here to support you! We strive to ensure you have access to the same support as your face-to-face colleagues by bringing online versions of support to life! We provide support in the areas of technology, writing, and Blackboard, as well as online tutoring in more than 200 subject areas! You also have a team of staff members in WKU Online who are just a click (or call) away! Please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 270-745-5173 for more information.