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Posted about 1 year ago
However, as one considers taking an online course, one must think about one’s commitment to learning. As a student, you must be willing to take total responsibility for your learning. There is no one who will “prod you along” when you do not complete the assignments on time or post in the discussion sections on a scheduled basis. All of this takes time, so you must make sure you allow enough time to complete the course.
Your peers are an important resource as you navigate through the course, so you need to be willing to share your knowledge, but at the same time ask for help when you need it. Depending on the philosophy of the instructor, or how busy that person is teaching other courses or working elsewhere, he/she may not respond as fast as you might like to problems you may have during the course. Consequently, you must learn to be patient or find other resources to assist you, such as your peers.
When you are first taking courses online, I would also suggest that you take one course. Later, you may consider taking more than one, but even then you should consider your other obligations in life. It’s amazing how much time two courses take.
For faculty thinking about teaching online, you have many of the same issues as the students when it comes to navigating in a course. “Good” communication is essential for everyone, students and faculty. Since there are no “face to face” interactions, communication becomes very important. Faculty needs to go to all areas of the course to make sure they do not miss a student asking a question or needing assistance in some way.
For many first time online students, problems with navigating the site, as well as “computer issues,” often discourage them, so they drop the course or do not take any more online courses. Consequently, it is essential faculty encourage the students to ask for help as soon as they need it, whether from the “help desk” or the faculty member. Faculties are facilitators. They do not “feed” the students the material.
Many courses utilize synchronized seminars as a teaching tool. They are a great forum in which the students and faculty in “real time” can communicate about a particular topic. However, technical issues seem to “appear” on a regular basis. Therefore, everyone has to be patient and work through the problems. Adequate planning must be done to minimize problems.
Online education can be a very positive experience for students and faculty, but they both have to understand the problems that can emerge and deal with them immediately. Communication between students and the faculty member is paramount, otherwise either or both may experience a great deal of frustration.