How well-suited are you for distance learning courses?
We know it is tempting to skip this step and assume that an online or television course is manageable in your schedule and what you need right now. But, please take a few minutes to complete the following self-assessment. Answer each question - then consider the factors associated with each choice.
1. Considering my personal and professional schedule, the amount of time I have to work on an online course is:
(a) 8 to 16 hours per week.
(b) 5 to 7 hours per week.
(c) 1 to 4 hours per week.
Many people who have never taken a distance-delivered course mistakenly assume that it requires less time than a traditional on-campus class. This is not true.
A distance-delivered course is as demanding as any other course. The only time savings you can expect in a distance-delivered course is time spent commuting. However, a distance-delivered course does make it easier for you to choose when you spend your available time doing coursework. With most courses, it doesn't matter whether you do your coursework at 2 a.m. or 6 p.m.
Your answer depends on a number of considerations. For example, a course taken during a summer term requires more concentrated time than one taken during the typically longer spring or fall semesters. If you answered (a) or (b), depending on the course, you probably have the time necessary to complete a typical three-credit distance-delivered course. Courses that are four-credits or offered during the summer or winter terms require more time. If your answer is (c), you do not have the necessary time to take a course now.
2. Having face-to-face interaction with my instructors and fellow students is:
(a) not particularly important to me.
(b) somewhat important to me.
(c) very important to me.
Typically there is very little face-to-face interaction, but distance-delivered courses do rely on various other forms of interaction. In some cases, distance-delivered courses are more interactive than some on-campus courses. E-mail, discussion groups and telephone and video conferencing provides distance-delivered courses with ample opportunities for you to interact with instructors and other students. However, if immediate or face-to-face interaction is very important to you, think carefully before enrolling in a distance-delivered course.
3. I would classify myself as someone who:
(a) is good at prioritizing tasks and often gets things done ahead of time without being reminded by my instructor.
(b) is sometimes poor at prioritizing, needs to be reminded of assignments once in a while, and often does assignments at the last minute.
(c) is poor at prioritizing and sometimes forgets to complete assignments if I'm not reminded about them frequently.
If you answered (a), then you are a very good candidate for a distance-delivered course. You must be fairly self-directed and conscientious about completing assignments to succeed in a distance-delivered course because you will not be sitting in a classroom on a regular basis and have your instructor or classmates nearby to remind you of assignments.
4. Classroom discussion is:
(a) rarely helpful to me.
(b) sometimes helpful to me.
(c) almost always helpful to me.
There is no wrong answer to this question because distance-delivered courses can work for you no matter what your answer. Still, it is useful to consider how much you depend upon immediate classroom discussion when choosing the type of distance-delivered courses that are best for you. Discussion with instructors or other students in distance-delivered courses occur through e-mail, disussion boards, online chat or telephone conferencing.
5. When it comes to assessing my own progress:
(a) I feel I can keep tabs on my progress, even without immediate or frequent feedback from my instructor.
(b) I prefer to receive regular feedback from my instructor, but do not mind if I can not get that feedback immediately after turning in a test or assignment.
(c) I need feedback from my instructor immediately and often.
If you answered (a) or (b) to this question, a distance-delivered course will probably be fine for you. If you answered (c), you may be dissatisfied with some delay in feedback in a distance-delivered course. As a result of the distance and time that separates you from your instructor, receiving immediate feedback from your instructor can sometimes be challenging. Although, some instructors use automated feedback to provide instant feedback on tests.
The amount of feedback you receive ultimately depends on your instructor's personal style, which is typical in any course. An instructor who places a high priority on giving students feedback quickly can accomplish that regardless of the distance separating you.
6. My need to take a distance delivered course is
(a) High - I need it immediately for a degree, job advancement or other important reason.
(b) Moderate - I could take it on campus or substitute another course.
(c) Low - It is a personal interest that could be postponed.
The greater your motivation, the greater the chance you will succeed. This is certainly true with distance-delivered courses. You are responsible for scheduling time for your coursework, and as such it can be easy for other things to take priority and result in delaying your coursework. A high level of motivation is important at those times.