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Online learning often employs a variety of technologies, so it is important to be able to learn new skills quickly to enhance your online learning experience.
Being familiar with online and computer technology will allow more time and energy to focus on coursework.
To research and complete written assignments, as well as communicate with the instructor and other students, basic software skills in word processing, email, browser navigation and search engines are needed.
Online courses may require you to download software or ‘plug ins’ in order to access and use video or audio content.
Everyone encounters computer problems at some point. Rather than be stifled by unexpected computer problems, look for online help manuals and assistance. Becoming familiar with these resources will help you become more adept when issues arise.
Viruses, spyware and other online threats can damage, hijack or steal sensitive information from your computer. Being up-to-date on virus-protection software will help you protect your computer and the information on it.
Many online courses utilize software, video and audio materials that need a fast Internet connection to run smoothly. Be sure your Internet access is capable of downloading software and streaming online video and audio materials effectively.
(Speed should be at least 1 MBPS [megabyte per second])
Online learning provides little or no face-to-face interaction with your instructors and other students, making it challenging to read body language and facial expressions. Learning basic netiquette can improve communication skills and reduce misunderstandings.
Learning from your peers is just as important as your own coursework. It is important to share different ideas and perspectives on topics and concepts to enrich your own as well as your classmate’s learning experience.
Regular interaction with other students will enhance the learning community of the course, especially since there is little to no face-to-face interaction with instructors or other students. Posting to forums and emailing will contribute greatly.
Many non-verbal communication mechanisms used by instructors to determine whether learners are having problems (confusion, frustration, boredom, absence, etc.) are not obvious in the online paradigm.
If a learner is experiencing difficulty on any level, either with the technology or with the course content, s/he must communicate this immediately, so the instructor can offer the proper assistance.
Learning online requires a substantial investment of time. Expect to study about two to three hours per week for each unit of credit in a typical 16-week class. Based on this rule of thumb, a student taking 15 credit hours should expect to spend 30 to 45 hours each week on school work.
Keeping a calendar to schedule personal life, work and school work is imperative.
Online learning provides less direct interaction with instructors and students, which means it’s up to you to stay on task. Staying motivated and keeping on top of your course load will help you reach your course goals.
Effective writing skills help communicate ideas and express opinions in online discussions. More importantly, writing skills will help with email communications and course assignments.
Being self-directed and studying independently are necessary skills to take responsibility for your learning. You will need to set goals, manage your study time, and evaluate your learning progress.
Assignment directions are usually given in written form. If questions arise, it’s best to ask your instructor for clarification.