In this day and age, it's likely that you'll have at least one online class throughout your education. Here are some pros and cons to consider before starting your online learning experience.
You have the power to adapt the course presentation fit to your learning styles and preferences. Often online learning requires an extra measure of self-teaching compared to being taught at a lecture each week. You can use this to your advantage by tailoring your method of learning. Some examples include reading and highlighting, creating note pages or index cards, speaking (and recording) the content and more.
Taking an online course allows for flexibility; if you like to work on a little each day, or a lot in one long session, you can tackle the course at the weekly pace you prefer. Some people learn best by concentrating for time segments punctuated by short breaks, others enjoy music or ambiance noises while they study. Additionally, if you are struggling with understanding a certain concept, you can take as much time as you need to focus and review, rather than moving at the pace of a professor.
Whether you're an early bird or a night owl, you can access the class at whatever time of the day that works best for you. You can "attend" class in a place that feels most comfortable: library, living room, coffee shop or the great outdoors (with nearby WiFi). Always wanted to wear your PJs to class? This is your chance!
Online classes are not limited by distance, therefore it's unlikely that classmates and professors live locally. This hinders the opportunity to collaborate with peers or drop in on a professor's office hour. While technology works well to bring people close together, it cannot fully replace face-to-face conversation. TIP: Remember to use the tools at your disposal such as discussion boards and virtual office hours (if your professor offers them).
This is not necessarily a negative to online learning, especially to those of you who are naturally self-motivated. To the others who are more likely to procrastinate or lack in self-motivation, an online class can be difficult to stay up to date with. TIP: Before the class begins, make a weekly schedule of your planned progress and tasks. Give yourself a little bit of wiggle room with the schedule, incase something comes up that may cause you to fall behind.
If your online class has few paced assignments and simply an end of year exam, it might be hard to stay accountable to remaining at your desired pace. It is possible that in the time frame you are working on your online class, you may be the only person working on it, therefore you cannot look to your peers' progress to know if you are on track. No one can force you to work on it, so you require the ambition to sit down and do it each week. TIP: If you're lacking ambition in your online class, consider choosing a location where you can regularly do your online class, such as a library. Sometimes it helps just to get out of the house to get yourself motivated. A library is especially ideal because if there are other people around you working, it will (hopefully) keep you accountable to do work as well.
Do you have positive or negative experiences taking online classes? Share in the comments below!