A 2011 Babson Survey Research Group report shows that over 6 million students took online classes in 2010, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A combination of student demand and increased college offerings have led to growth in e-learning. Despite its advantages, online classes aren't the best fit for all types of students. You should assess your educational goals and personal traits to decide whether online makes sense for you.
Online classes probably aren't for you if you don't have a strong level of self-discipline. Whereas students in traditional classes have instructors and peers to hold them accountable for work, online students must rely on their own organizational skills and discipline to complete work on time. This typically includes scheduling time each day for reading and regular course work and spending extra time in study. Keeping a schedule and to-do list are critical.
You don't have to be a tech expert to succeed in online learning, but a basic degree of competence with a computer and related technology is certainly useful. Online classes usually include the use of instructor resource centers, discussion forums, email and search tools for research. If you complete your classes at home, you don't have much help either unless you have a more tech-savvy family member to help you out.
Online learning is a preferred option for some students who get easily distracted in classrooms. Distractions may include a simple need to observe the movements and actions of other students, frustration over the discussion-oriented nature of traditional classes, and sound and movement during tests. If you focus and perform better on work and tests in a quiet place of solitude, online education may make sense.
Traditional-aged students right out of high school have access to online classes and may experience success. However, many online course offerings are structured to provide convenience and flexibility for adult learners who work full-time or need to balance school with family responsibilities. If you fit one of these descriptions, online courses allow the flexibility to schedule class time at night and on the weekends when you can have time alone. Additionally, having professional expertise and foundational knowledge on class topics makes it easier to learn new things in an online environment.
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