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Is Online Learning for You?

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If you are an independent learner at a high reading level who is looking for a challenging academic curriculum, virtual learning is perfect for you.

Still not 100% sure if online learning is the best fit for you? Consider these points.

Are you considering taking online courses? Online learning can sound so wonderful that some students start online courses without a clear picture of what is expected from them. Online courses require just as much, if not more, time and energy than traditional face-to-face classroom courses. Also, online learning requires specific computer skills and learning strategies in order to succeed.

                                   Do you have what it takes to be an online student?

  1. Persistence is perhaps the biggest key to success in online learning. Students who succeed in online learning are those who are willing to tolerate technical difficulties, seek help when needed, work daily on every class, and persist through challenges. Some hints for doing well online are:

    • When you run into a challenge, keep trying and ask for help.

    • Set up a manageable study schedule for yourself and stick to it. Students who succeed are those who log in and make progress every day— even after the novelty of going to school online starts to wear off!

  2. Time Management and Motivation. As a student of online learning, you will be directing your learning on a day-by-day basis. Effective time-management skills don't just happen. They have to be learned. Some suggestions to help you are:

    • Review the syllabus for each of your courses and develop a long-term plan for completing your major assignments.

    • Make a daily "To Do" list and have fun checking things off the list as you complete them.

  3. Communication Skills  We provide several ways for students and parents to communicate with teachers and staff, including email, discussion groups, synchronous lessons, chat room office hours, phone numbers, messaging, and even real time face to face office hours at our Virtual Learning Center (the VLC). Teachers and staff are glad to take questions from students and want to help you to succeed in your classes.

  4. Basic Computer Skills The ability to create new documents, use a word processing program, navigate the Internet, and upload files are some of the basic technical skills needed by online learners. All online students must attend a new student orientation which teaches students how to use their learning management system and other online tools. If you are unfamiliar with basic computer skills, let us know!

  5. Reading and Writing are the main ways you'll communicate in an online class. If you need an assistive technology tool like a screen-reader or dictation software, please let us know!

  6. A Good Study Environment. Another critical component of academic success online is a good study environment.

    • Get some peace and quiet. You will need a quiet place to work without distractions like television or siblings.

    • Avoid games. Consider uninstalling any computer games to avoid temptation, or keep the games on a different computer in the house.

    • Turn off your cell phone. Let friends and family members know the hours that you will be "at" school.

    • Beware of surfing. It is easy to wander off through the Internet for much longer than planned.

    • Set up a comfortable work space. Lighting in the room should be at least as bright as the computer screen to avoid eye strain. Adjust the height of your chair, keyboard, and screen so that you are comfortable. Forearms and thighs should be level and parallel to the floor. Wrists should not be bent while typing.

It's important to know what you're getting into and to understand the kind of commitment that's necessary for success in online learning.

You can get a good idea of your readiness for online learning by filling out the following assessment.

 

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