- Online Courses
Taking an online course is a great way to work towards your college degree during summer or winter breaks or make up a course credit. Online courses are a flexible alternative to a traditional college course, and allow you to complete your course work in the comfort and convenience of your own home.
One of the areas where online courses can vary widely is in their level of interaction between students and professors, as well as among students. Some courses will use bulletin boards and message boards to manage questions and answers for students in courses. Other programs will use live video or chat rooms to answer questions in a more interactive, live format. A good number of accredited online courses will have a combination of these different communications options.
Should interaction options be a deciding factor in which online course to take? Yes! If you're not comfortable with the preferred mechanisms for feedback and questions in a course, you won't get as much out of the course as you could. Asking questions and getting feedback on your work is vital to progressing. Online courses at a given school may have a variety of lecture styles, and some courses even include group projects. The best way to find out what you are signing up for, is to request information and talk more with a counselor.
Look at the mechanisms built into a program for projects and homework as well - see if the program offers the chance for you to get as many experiences in your chosen field of study as possible. A number of online courses are just multiple-choice testing affairs without any in depth study. If you are requesting information, select from a variety of online schools offering the degree you are interested in, and see what options they offer you to help you grow and develop your skills during the program.
Studying and Testing for Online Courses
One of the most important parts of an online degree course that doesn't come in the box or download is your study and testing environment. Your level of success in an online degree program depends heavily on your ability to commit time to your studies. While online degrees are flexible about when and where you study, you still need to devote time to your studies. Some general advice for studying and testing with online degrees:
If you're taking an online course that has downloads, try listening to them on your commute. If you have just a place at home, work after others have left or gone to bed. Turn your phone and other mobile devices off.
Equally harmful to sustained study are things like social networks, instant messengers, and other ways your attention can be diverted while online. Turn off everything you can possibly turn off to reduce distractions until after you're done.
Schedule Your Time
Just because online degree programs let you study wherever and whenever you want doesn't mean that a schedule isn't a good idea. We tend to be more disciplined and rigorous when we've got a schedule of some kind. Set a schedule, set reminders, and stick to it to ensure you're making the progress you need to make.
Also set aside a special place to do your work. It could be a corner of your office, the back seat of your car, even the kitchen table after everyone has gone to bed, but make sure you have a dedicated place to study that is consistent.
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