Is Online Right For You?
Distance Learning Student
Are you considering an online degree or certificate program? Are you wondering if you will have difficulties with an online program? Are you unsure if you have the time to dedicate to online learning? If so, please feel free to to look through the questions below.
These questions will allow you to assess your confidence level with completing an online program. Please be honest with yourself as you answer, and review the supplied information regarding online learning to gain some insight into the online learning process.
1. How confident do you feel working with computer files, downloading and installing new software, emailing, and using the Internet?
Online courses are delivered through an Internet connection. Therefore, it is essential that you possess the following skills/competencies:
- Knowledge of terminology, such as browser, application, software, hardware, downloads, and installation.
- Understanding of basic computer hardware and software; ability to perform computer operations
- Using a keyboard and mouse
- Managing files and folders: save, name, copy, move, backup, rename, delete, check properties
- Software installation, security and virus protection
- Using software applications, such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, email clients
- Knowledge of copying and pasting, spell-checking, saving files in different formats
- Sending and downloading attachments
- Internet skills (connecting, accessing, using browsers) and ability to perform online research using various search engines and library databases
- Ability to use online communication tools, such as email (create, send, receive, reply, print, send/receive attachments), discussion boards (read, search, post, reply, follow threads), chats, and video conferencing tools
2. Do you have reliable access to a high-speed, Internet-ready computer?
If you have your own computer and reliable high-speed Internet access, you should have no problem accessing the content in your online courses.
If you have limited access to a computer, it would be helpful for you to take some time to locate a facility where you can have online access to your course. Suggestions include: a public library, a university library, or a friend's computer. Be sure to write down the hours that the computer will be available to you, and be sure to ask if the computer has high-speed Internet access.
For certain courses, dial-up Internet access is not sufficient. Many of Kennesaw State University's online courses are media rich and require more bandwidth than dial-up offers. Please be aware that KSU recommends a high-speed Internet connection such as DSL, Cable, or even certain robust wireless connections (4-G networks).
3. Does your schedule allow adequate time to dedicate to online classes?
If you have a good balance of leisure time to obligations, or have more leisure time than obligations to the question above, you will likely have the time to devote to an online class. However, if you have more obligations than leisure time, you may want to consider the following:
Time that you need to devote to a 3-credit course will be between 10 and 14 hours a week.
The advantages to online learning are flexibility and convenience; you can access your courses at times and locations that are most convenient for you.
Are all of your obligations truly commitments, or are they obligations that can be delayed until after you finish an online program? Prioritize those obligations. Are there really more obligations than leisure time, or can you make room in your life for online courses?
4. Will you have assistance from friends and family during challenging situations?
Life often presents challenges and opportunities that can disrupt our normal routines. Do you have a support system in place to assist you with difficult situations? Occasionally, because of the distant nature of distance learning, students become overwhelmed or stressed due to obligations both in class and in their personal lives. Be sure your family and friends know you are taking online classes and ask for help when you need it.
Also, be aware of Kennesaw State University's student resources (including the Division for Student Success and the Center for Health Promotion & Wellness). You can find more information here: http://kennesaw.edu/students.php?t=2.
5. How much time do you think an online class will take to successfully complete?
If you think that online courses are less rigorous or take less time than traditional, face-to-face courses, consider the following:
- Kennesaw State University's online courses take just as much time as regular on site classes. Setting aside sufficient study time is imperative.
- Spend at least as much time working on the assignments and studying as you would with a traditional course.
- Remember, you are trading "seat time" for self-directed learning activities.
6. How do you prefer to keep track of your obligations, such as appointments or due dates?
If you already use time management tools, continue to keep track of all meetings, deadlines, and events. If you answered "my memory" or "I miss appointments and deadlines regularly", consider the following:
- While online courses can offer scheduling flexibility, they do require more self-discipline and independence than traditional courses.
- In Kennesaw State University's online environment, you have to be able to start and complete tasks on your own, without someone keeping you focused.
- You have to be self-disciplined in order to follow the class schedule and meet deadlines.
- Because online learning is powered by self-motivation, it is easy to fall behind if you do not structure your time well.
- You may wish to work on your time management skills before enrolling in online courses.
7. Are you confident in your ability to express your thoughts and ideas in writing?
Strong reading skills and the ability to communicate effectively through writing are essential skills for online students. Communication in online courses usually occur through text-based tools such as email, discussion forums, chats and instant messaging. You need to feel comfortable expressing yourself in writing to be successful in an online course. If you need help with your writing skills, Kennesaw State University's Writing Center can help you improve in this area.
8. In what type of environment do you feel you learn best? An independent environment with self-taught learning; student-centered, where you are on your own, but help is available; or teacher-directed, where all material is expained in detail?
Good online courses create learning communities in which collaboration and cooperation are essential. Many online courses incorporate some elements of the traditional independent study with modern e-learning best practices.
Be aware that an online course may be teacher-directed in the sense of course design and content, but it will be up to you to proceed through the coursework with occasional help from your peers and the instructor. You may need to practice requesting clarification and guidance from your online facilitators and fellow members of the learning community.
9. Have you ever participated in a study skills training workshop or class?
Study skills workshops or classes can help you become proficient in the following areas:
- time management
- note taking
- textbook study methods
- test taking strategies
- critical thinking
All of these skills are essential to a Kennesaw State University online learner.
10. Are you aware that KSU Online offers distance learning students many opportunities for academic and student success support?
KSU Online is dedicated to the success of our distance learning students. We encourage all web learners to take advantage of the following services: