About Online Classes
If you are having trouble fitting college classes into your busy schedule and enjoy using computers, online courses may be the answer for you. Online courses provide an alternative to taking regular college classes for the student who has work, family, and other obligations that are barriers to traveling to campus for the traditional classroom environment. Below are some requirements to consider.
Computer Requirements and Skills
An online student must have access to a computer with a current operating system and the following resources.
- One of the recommended web browsers:
Firefox – latest version
Google Chrome – latest version
- Browser plugins, such as Flash, Acrobat Reader, and Java
- Anti-Virus and Firewall software
- Word Processor/Office Suite
- A high speed internet connection (DSL or Cable recommended)
Besides these resources, a student shouldn't need special software unless required by the instructor. Students will, however, need basic computer use skills, which may include proficiency in word processing, creating directories or folders, copying files, copying/pasting text, sending/receiving emails with attachments, switching between programs, and following and saving hyperlinks on a webpage.
In an online course, there is no set class time, and you are allowed to work when you want. You are, nonetheless, expected to actively participate in course activities (discussions, group work, etc.) on a regular basis, and online courses do involve deadlines just like any other on-campus class. This means it’s not an option to wait until the end of the term to complete all assignments and activities. For a 3-credit class, students should expect to spend 9 hours per week online and offline reading the text, doing homework, participating in class discussions, etc.
A key factor to student success in the online environment is self-direction, the ability and willingness to direct one’s own education. Online students need to be independent and to take responsibility for their learning. Self-directed learning involves specific skills: organization, motivation, and a sense of confidence. Online students must also be comfortable asking questions and communicating in writing to participate in discussions, complete assignments, and work with instructors and classmates.