Like many students, you understand the value of furthering your education. But due to work and family obligations, you may not be able to commit to being in the classroom several nights a week. Enter online education! The online learning environment brings a unique set of benefits and challenges to students when compared to traditional face-to-face courses and lectures. However, with preparation and the correct frame of mind, you can find great satisfaction and success in the brave new world of online instruction.
Online courses are different from the traditional classroom in a number of ways:
- Online courses are reading intensive. Content is presented through web pages and online textbooks along with audio/visual presentations and interactives rather than through traditional classroom lectures.
- Interaction with your professor and classmates in online courses occurs mainly through discussion board posts, emails, online chats and message boards rather than traditional face-to-face interaction.
- Although there are usually specific due dates for assignments, participation in the online course can usually be scheduled around work and family. Rather than driving to the University to attend your course at a specific meeting time, you can log in to the course anywhere you have a computer and internet access.
- Since the professor will not be there in person, taking attendance and delivering a lecture you must be self-motivated and willing to accept the challenge and responsibility of being an independent learner. When you have questions or concerns regarding assignments, you must take the initiative to contact your professor.
- While you’ll typically cover the same material in the same amount of time as in the traditional classroom setting, you can be assured that your learning experience will be no less rigorous! You must be disciplined and motivated to get the most from your online learning experience.
Online learning didn’t come about before I finished my Ph.D. However, all of my post- graduate work has been completed online. Whether it was business law or management, I found I was able to master the subject matter while working 40 hours a week and spending time with my family. In fact, many students report learning more in online classes than in traditional classes, and they find the online learning experience to be more rewarding. I believe that the future of online instruction in higher education is bright!
Dr. Diane Minger is a fulltime professor of Marketing and Management at Cedar Valley College. She also teaches a variety of undergraduate and MBA courses for Bethel University. Dr. Minger is a pioneer in online instruction and has been teaching online since 1997.