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5 Things You Want to Know Before Taking an Online Course

Monday 28 Mar 2016

Online education has gained an incredible momentum lately. This is due to many advantages it offers, especially for busy students. With education funding being tight and our increasingly fast paced lives, universities and colleges are quickly moving more and more towards online learning, leaving behind the old traditional models of learning in classrooms. In fact, higher institutions have been preparing for this revolutionary change for years, building websites, online programs and databases, as they have foreseen the surge towards online technology in every aspect of our life, including education.

Taking online courses allows students to learn at their own pace in the convenience of their own home or workplace, while keeping other aspects of their life in check. However, this non-traditional way of learning can be challenging if certain measures aren’t taken. Online education tests your time management skills and self-discipline as well as study and learning techniques. In order to succeed, preparation and familiarization are key.

Learning from those who have previously been in your shoes is a great way to avoid mistakes. Here are 5 things you need to know before taking online courses:

1. Choose the right Institution

Planning your higher education and future career development with online learning requires that you are well  prepared and ready for the journey, so you don’t face any obstacles that will make it easy to quit. Choosing the right College or University is essential in this process. There are a few things to look for when choosing your online institution itself.

 Accreditation of the institute is important as it means that the school is recognized as a legitimate institution, which validates your certification. Employers will look for diplomas or certificates from recognized institutions, like George Brown College

Source: Degree Central 

  • Student Support availability means that the institution is invested in you and cares about your education. Online technical and tutorial support can help to guide you in difficult situations and save you from losing money and time on online education costs such as losing an exam to an internet connection failure, or having to replace faulty education materials.

  • Student testimonials can give you an insight into the student experience at a particular school. Try and read lots of them to get a good feel for an institution.

 2. Research the job market

When planning for higher education, it is essential to look at job market trends as well as currently available jobs. With today’s constantly evolving technology and media, the options for more tech-related careers are wide open. Digital literacy is necessary in every job nowadays and having computer programming skills through online education could boost your career options. For example, in the industrial automation world, PLC systems are heavily used in the control of machinery on factory assembly lines and other Input/Output real-time systems. Employers look for technically trained people who can build, program, integrate, service, maintain and operate PLCs. PLC programming language has come a long way and will continue to evolve in the upcoming years to smaller, faster control systems with advanced features.

3. Be prepared and schedule time for studying

Online courses can really test your self-discipline and time management skills. Now that you have decided on your school and field of study, you need to get organized by familiarizing yourself with the technology used in the course. Design a plan to finish the program within a certain time frame creating a calendar to arrange study times, tests and other important tasks. If you are a full time worker, make sure you give your online course a regularly scheduled study time to keep up to date with the course material and complete assignments. Dividing your course load into small portions makes it more manageable and ensures success through avoiding cramming at the last minute.

4. Stay engaged with the course material and make use of  your program’s student resources

Participation in discussion forums and keeping up communications with other students as well as staff members, is an important factor in online course/success. Most good colleges provide student services that are free and designed to help you manage the academic and lifestyle challenges you may encounter. Tutorial and technical support services could be a great resource to exploit to save time, money and to resolve difficult technical problems and understand course material when needed. Moreover, keeping in communication with other students and participating in discussion posts can help direct ideas in the right direction through articulate, intelligent comments. This creates an exciting learning environment where great ideas can come together to create a difference in technology and therefore the world.

5. Online education is not the “easy” option

Although online education offers flexibility and convenience, it does not change the amount of time and effort you need to put into your courses in order to be successful. Distance education is associated with a high level of self-responsibility and commitment. Taking the time every day to teach yourself, with the help of the right institution, to learn and study online takes commitment and persistence. Some student may actually work better in an online environment where the flexibility of online discussions can make the learning experience more enjoyable and enriching.

“Learning is not a spectator sport. Students must talk about what they are learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences, and apply it to their daily lives. They must make what they learn part of themselves.” - Chickering and Gamson

Now that you know all of this, is online education right for you? Does it sound like something you can master?

 

 

 


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