What Can I Learn from Online College Courses?

girl-using-laptop-in-park

Photo credit: CollegeDegrees360 / Foter / CC

What can I learn Online 

What you can learn from an online college course depends on who you are and where you are coming from. Up until now college  students were mostly teenagers just out of high school, looking to continue learning at a higher level.  But today online education is expanding this group to include working professionals seeking upgrading, retirees who always wanted to improve themselves, entrepreneurs beginning a new business and needing background on how to proceed, job seekers of all ages and backgrounds looking to add specialty training for their curriculum vitae, and many others outside the standard educational stream who are becoming aware of what is now possible. Many of these older students are already employed. They want to keep their jobs and yet gain academic credits. Online college courses seems to be the answer. Many don’t need the cost and distractions of football & dorm life. They are geared up to study hard, and want their energies to go into rewarding course work. According to a 2012 survey conducted by The Learning House, the average student pursuing a postsecondary credential completely online is a white, 33-year old woman with a full-time job and a household income of around $65,000 per year. The student body is fast changing! These can all learn from online college courses, but not all require a degree-granting body to confirm their success. For many, success is what they say it is, and what they themselves know they have achieved.

What to study

  Your being able to choose to learn from so many online college courses is part of the revolution in learning that the internet makes possible. Every year more data and programs are uploaded and more teaching sources come online. While at the same time access to the internet becomes easier and faster. Deciding what to study online is no longer just passively choosing college courses from a short list,  but with the growing lists of so many online college courses from so many domestic and foreign institutions, a supermarket of programs and courses is starting to appear.  While on the other end of the computer screen, online teachers are having their own continuing revolution as reports on what teaching methods work best online are circulated, and electronic tools are upgraded and improved.  And you can see that the internet tends to have a democratizing effect on learning, giving users the possibility of increased choice & participation in authoring their own trajectories through knowledge. In the last few years hundreds of colleges and universities have come online to offer you choices of thousands of college courses. Although some of these courses will have been carefully tailored to the needs of online students, some will not. Many of these courses will offer reasonable transference of credits to other colleges, many will not. For traditional institutions, adding online courses can greatly influence student enrolment and their bottom lines since online college courses are less expensive to prepare and maintain than regular courses. Some institutions will recognize this by offering lower fees for online courses, some will not. For you as a student considering investing a lot of time and money learning from online college courses your first step will be to satisfy yourself on these questions.

Can I Prepare for Online College & University?

Well, yes, definitely you can prepare for online college & university.  If you can make good use of time before your online college course begins that’s a bonus. Probably you already have a very crowded life and think you can cram this in as well. But rethink that. You really need a special computer study space with a desk & shelves cleared & dedicated to your online studies. In that study space you’ll want quiet during your planned study hours. Discuss these study needs with family, friends & house mates. Emphasize that you need an ordered foundation to rise to the challenges of learning from online college courses.

Look at your present use of time and build a reasonable schedule that allows for a minimum of 3 hours of study time for every hour of online classes. One of the ways of being prepared for online studies  will be to use all the course tools available. Don’t wait for the” right time” to check out all the online tools. Do it as soon as you can. Make notes on what you don’t understand & ask the instructor or friends right away. Practice! If you are to maximize your learning from online college courses you must not be shy!

Arrange your course’s computer files for easy access with clear course labels. You are going to be faced with many new names of instructors, & of other students, as the online course gets underway. Keep a file of those names handy so you can quickly identify who’s who. Some of those names may become friends – people like yourself – wanting to talk over the direction & needs of the online course.  Always be clear what course homework & research is expected of you. Have a “to do” file with expected completion dates & resolve never to be late with any course assignments. And be sure to read all the FAQ’s posted for the online course – how do you hand in assignments, where do you find deadlines for assigned work, how do forums work, have you downloaded all the required course software?

And when you are assigned to write a class paper -don’t panic. On your desk beside the well-chosen dictionary is the book you have almost memorized, the one on how to write a successful class paper – complete with reminders of when & where to place footnotes, and how to build a  paragraph. Browse it daily.