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What is an Online Course?

Students must be self-directed and motivated to be successful online learners, because they must carefully manage their time to keep up with the course requirements. Additionally, the lack of face-to-face interaction between the instructor and students affects how the course materials are presented, how communication takes place, how student learning is assessed, as well as the overall learning experience. Many students enjoy learning in an online environment, but it is not for everyone. Before registering for your first online course it is important to assess whether online courses are compatible with your skills and learning style. The following list provides an overview of many of the skills and resources it takes to be a successful online learner:

Technology Skills

  • Good basic computer skills
  • Experience using a Web browser such as Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox
  • Experience communicating using e-mail or chat tools
  • Be comfortable with downloading software from the Internet and installing it on their computer

Time Management Skills

  • Plan time well to ensure enough time to study and complete assignments
  • Exercise self-discipline in order to complete assignments on time
  • Commit 6 - 9 hours per week per three-credit class
  • Log in regularly to participate in class, usually at least three times per week, or as instructed

Communication Skills

  • Enjoy communicating in writing and enjoy reading the writing of others
  • Be assertive and willing to 'speak up' to instructors if problems arise
  • Be willing to share ideas and give careful consideration when responding to the ideas shared by others
  • No need to rely on face-to-face interaction with instructor or classmates

Study Skills

  • Be able to read and write well (in English)
  • Know how to effectively research using the Internet
  • Have strategies (such as taking notes) to get the most from the study materials
  • Maintain good concentration when reading and know what steps to take to remember important information
  • Be able to work with others to complete projects

Minimum Technology Resources

  • Access to a reliable computer
  • Consistent access to the Internet (World Wide Web)
  • Access to a word processing program (such as Microsoft Word)
  • For additional information, see the Technical Requirements section.