Is online learning right for me?

Online courses use technology for teaching and communication. Online can be a great option, but it isn't right for everyone. Take the Online Learner Assessment from the Illinois Online Network to determine if online learning fits your circumstances, lifestyle, and educational needs.

Tips for best results

  • Avoid procrastination  - the downfall of many online students. You must be responsible to meet assignment due dates without having instructors calling or e-mailing you or having a face-to-face conference.
  • Managing time (i.e. school work, family, and job) is important for online learning. The online learner is expected to be organized and perform multiple tasks to complete lessons.
  • Online courses require you to work independently. Some students prefer the independence of online-based courses; others find it uncomfortable.
  • Online courses demand AT LEAST as much time from you as on-campus courses do. Typically, successful students spend more time--not less--to complete their online courses.
  • Online courses require you to work primarily from written directions (either on paper or the computer) without face-to-face instructions. Instructors are generally available during their office hours for phone consultation and clarification, or you can email them within your course.
  • Assignments are typically submitted by e-mail with documents as attachment or occasionally hand-delivery to the instructor.
  • You must proactively participate in the communication forums, such as the Discussion Board, and you must regularly check your email and respond to messages--most instructors expect you to check into class multiple times a week.
  • The online student must be willing to seek out help when needed, ask well thought-out questions, and understand that getting an answer may take several days
  • Some online courses require some on-campus work: orientations, face-to-face presentations, review sessions, exams,  or labs. Check course descriptions or your syllabus for details.

Basic Skills for online success

Certain basic skills are need to successfully take online classes. Each student should be able to:

  • Use a desktop or laptop computer for basic tasks.
  • Use a word processing and printing program.
  • Connect to the Internet from a home, office, or college computer.
  • Navigate the Internet using a browser program.
  • Use email, including attaching a file to an email message
  • Download a program from the Internet and install it.
  • Do a search on the web, locating and noting reference information.
  • Use a multimedia program for streaming video/audio.
  • Use an online discussion board forum and chatroom.

A Tutorial for basic Computer Skills is provided by the Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium.