There are many considerations for the student to consider before enrolling in an online learning course. There is little or no face-to-face contact between students and their instructor during the course, and this creates a different learning atmosphere for students.
Online learning students (to be referred to as students on this page) must be very self-motivated, and self-disciplined in most facets of their lives in order to succeed in these courses. Students should be organized, good at independent study, and be able to manage their time well. Since there is no set time for courses to meet, students must set times for themselves to complete assignments. It is easy to fall behind in distance courses, without realizing it.
Typically, online learning courses require more time than do traditional courses. Students should presume to spend at least six to eight hours per week on coursework. This includes time to read required assignments, perform research, respond to dialog in class discussions, etc. If synchronous (live) online chat is required, being a good typist will help students to communicate satisfactorily online.
Students should be better-than-average readers, and be able to communicate clearly and succinctly through their writing.
Students should be comfortable using a computer for completing their assignments, doing research on the World Wide Web, synchronous and asynchronous communication. Although owning a personal computer is not mandatory, it is a good idea. If a student does not own their own computer, it is advantageous to have access to one several times per week. Several courses require material that is distributed on CD-ROMs, therefore a CD-ROM (internal or external) may be required.
High-speed access is not necessary, but the faster the connection speed, the faster material will download, and the less you will have to wait to continue with your assignment.
Students should have the following word processing skills:
Create and save a document in different formats
Copy-and-paste or cut-and-paste from one source to another
Change size, style and color of font
Set margins and page orientation
Use spelling, grammar and thesaurus functions
Add page numbers, headers and footers in a document
Create and/or import tables
Use a printer
Students should have an email address dedicated only to coursework, and have the following email skills:
Send and receive emails with attachments
Forward and reply to emails (There is a difference!)
Create an email group and send messages to it
Students should have the following cyber discussion skills:
Post messages to a discussion board
Post messages with attachments to a discussion board
Log onto and participate in a synchronous chat room
Students should have the following Internet skills:
Visit sites by use of hyperlink or URL
Move forward and backward through sites
Create and use bookmarks or "favorites"
Use a search engine
Download files from the Web