Thinking about attending an online university? Online learning is a rapidly growing form of education, and the tools and technologies are constantly evolving. Although online learning has become a common way to take professional education courses, and is increasingly accepted for undergraduate and graduate degrees, not everyone is well-suited to it. Answer these questions to see if online learning is for you.
Is your free time important to you?
Online learning allows you to maximize your time. No travel time or cost. No time out of office or away from family. Instead of spending valuable time commuting to a campus, you log onto the Internet at your convenience, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Learn the necessary specialized knowledge and stay at home -- without the expense and hassle of travel.
Are you a decent writer?
Because most online learning takes place in writing, it helps to be comfortable with the written word. Perfect grammar isn't necessary, but the ability to read and write easily is especially helpful.
Do you want to actively learn material and apply it at your job?
Not only does online learning allow you to interact directly with your professional peers from across the country, you'll aslo be able to apply course material directly to your professional situation during case studies and other classroom activities.
Do you want to passively be given information?
If you want to sit and watch someone talk, then the online learning classroom may not be for you. But if you want to think about and then apply the topic at hand, you will appreciate online learning methods.
Do you find yourself juggling a number of responsibilities?
If you are busy with multiple responsibilities (work, family, outside organizations), then you are especially suited to the convenience of online learning. E-learners report that they participate at all times of the day-some prefer early in the morning over a cup of coffee, others late at night after the work day is done and the kids are asleep, and still others prefer to work during lunch or a slow time at the office.
Do you have a job and are you over 25 years old?
Academic studies show that the most successful e-learners are working adults over 25. Such folks have the motivation to learn and are mature enough to handle the freedom of online learning.
Are you self-disciplined?
Academic studies also show that successful e-learners are self-starters who motivate themselves to accomplish tasks. If you procrastinate or need someone to hold your hand to accomplish a task, then online learning will not be an enjoyable experience. However, if you are motivated, organized, and self-disciplined, you should learn more in an online learning course than in a site-based course.
Randy Accetta, Ph.D., has worked as the Director of Professional Education for Magellan.edu, a leading provider of instructor-led, online learning. He is currently an e-learning consultant at Accetta Enterprises and on the faculty of theMcGuire Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Arizona.