As you may have read in one of my previous blog posts, I decided to take this spring semester online. I wrote about my experiences with it so far, as of the first few weeks of classes. Now that I’m doing finals, it seems like a good time to revisit my previous evaluation of online courses. Motivation, time management and difficulty learning are three main obstacles with online learning that I’ve come across.
The biggest obstacle to overcome when you take an online course, in my opinion, is motivation. Finding it can be difficult, when you know you won’t have to walk into class at 8 a.m. and see your teacher’s face when you don’t hand in your homework assignment. I’m motivated by deadlines, which is great for taking online courses since due dates are often the only thing keeping you from piling work up until the last week of April. Some of my classes didn’t mandate homework be turned in weekly, though, and I’ll admit that I might have procrastinated just a little bit. This week has been busy.
That leads me into my second point, time management. It’s all too easy to get relaxed and think, “I don’t need much time to do that – I’ll get it done Sunday night.” Then, Sunday night rolls around and you’re preoccupied with friends, family, and other obligations, and there you are, with a late assignment. It’s also really easy to forget when you have a test. Most of my classes online open a test on a set day, during a set time period. If you miss it, too bad for you (if you’re lucky, the teacher offers makeup exams at the end of the semester). If you don’t keep a running to-do list with dates and times, or a calendar, you’re probably going to forget something.
Another problem I found is learning the material. I can sit down, open up a PowerPoint and take notes on it with no problem, the same as being in a classroom. But when you don’t have the teacher explaining a difficult concept to you in person, when you can’t watch them work it out on a whiteboard or listen to your classmates ask questions, it gets difficult. I’ve utilized tools other than my textbooks and teacher-provided references in order to understand some of my homework. Be prepared to have to work harder and dig up answers – no one is there to hand them to you.
I definitely wouldn’t discourage taking online classes at CCBC. If you’re still scheduling, don’t rule them out, and if you already enrolled in one, this wasn’t written to talk you out of it. Take it as some friendly advice, and be sure not to underestimate the work you have to put in to succeed.
– Rachael, student blogger