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Are online courses right for me?

10 Questions to Ask Yourself...


1. Do you have the necessary equipment?

Online courses are delivered via the Internet. You will need frequent access to an Internet accessible computer to complete your coursework. In addition, many online students like to print assignments, instructions, study materials, etc.  A printer is not a requirement for taking an online course; however, it is certainly beneficial for online students. Some classes may require certain pieces of computer hardware (a microphone, webcam or thumb drive for example).


2. Do you have basic computer skills?

To succeed in an online course, it is vitally important that you are comfortable working on a computer.  Basic keyboarding skills are vital for students enrolled in online and telecourses as all communication is conducted electronically.  You do not need to be a computer expert to excel in an online course; rather, listed are some of the tasks that you will need to accomplish:

  • send and receive email
  • send, download and open attachments
  • word processing skills
  • organize files and folders on your computer
  • download and rename files
  • conduct internet research using the online library databases and public search engines like Google. Library staff can assist with these searches, contact them at library@pennhighlands.edu

If you don't have good computer skills you might consider registering for CIT 100 - Microcomputers Apps in a regular classroom before taking online courses.


3. Will your schedule allow you to spend adequate time on this class?

With distance education courses, the distinction between “class” time and “study” time blurs together.  Students should expect to spend approximately six to nine hours each week 
on a distance education course.  In an online course there is no professor to make you show up to class. This gives you freedom but in order to do well in the course you must discipline yourself to study and complete assignments by their specific due dates..


4. Do you practice good time management skills?

Do not procrastinate!  Although you 
are not meeting at a regular time each week, it is vitally important to set aside time each week to work on your online course. Each assignment will have a specific due date and if not done on time you may be scored a zero! Make sure to check ahead and know when work is done. Complete things slightly ahead of time if you can.


5. How would you rate your overall study skills?

Strong study skills are vital to your success in distance education courses.  Knowing and practicing study skills that work best for YOU will aid in your success.  Outlining class materials, creating your own review cards, and typing out your notes are all helpful study methods.


6. How would you rate your reading comprehension?

Take a moment to evaluate your reading comprehension skills.  The vast majority of online material is presented in written format.  It's important to realize you can't just skim over the content and be able to have a clear understanding of when assignments are due and what is expected of you. Strong reading comprehension skills are needed to succeed in an online course. 


7. Are you comfortable communicating in a written forum?

Most communication in an online class consists of written email messages between you and the instructor and discussions among class participants. If you have difficulty with an assignment or have questions, you must be willing to compose a message to inform the instructor. Make sure to write your professor using your best possible grammar and spelling, writing for an online course is not like posting on Facebook or texting someone.


8. Do you plan ahead?

There will be times when you have a question about your online course. You may not receive immediate feedback.  Sometimes you will need to wait until the instructor or another student is online to answer a question for you.  To avoid situations like this it is best to plan ahead. If you wait to the last minute to do your work, something seems to always go wrong.


9. Are you willing to ask questions?

Online instructors can not read your body language and may not know if you are 
having problems.  If you have a question, write your instructor an email asking them for help. Make sure to write emails clearly and properly so instructors can understand you.


10. Are you up to the challenge?

In an online course, the instructor is a facilitator, not a lecturer.  You must take the responsibility for your own learning.  Information will be presented in your textbook and through lesson content, PowerPoint presentations, video, and Websites.  It is up to you create your own learning path and monitor your own progress. If you like working alone, communicating by writing, and working at your own best time of day, you will do well in an online course.

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