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Tips for Enrolling in an Online Course

Who Should Take an Online Course?

Some really good reasons for enrolling in an online Course:

  • You have a full-time job, a family, would like to get an education, and still have a life.
  • Because of your work schedule, you can't take classes at regularly scheduled times.
  • You are mobility impaired.
  • You can't find or afford reliable childcare.
  • You live too far from campus to attend classes.
  • You are shy and hate having to speak in class.
  • English is your second language. You read and write English reasonably well, but you have trouble understanding or being understood in English.

Online students must:

  • Be self-starters-have the maturity and motivation to work on their own
  • Have the necessary hardware and software
  • Have basic computer skills

Common Misconceptions about Online Courses

  • You think that an on-line class will be easier than a traditional course. Actually, on-line courses are as difficult as, if not more difficult than, traditional courses.
  • You think it will take less time because you won't have to sit in a classroom. The reality is that an on-line course can take as much or more time and effort as a traditional course.
  • You want to learn how to use a computer or surf the web. Understand that you must know how to use your computer and get around on the Internet before taking an on-line course.

The Reality of Taking an Online Course

Contrary to popular belief, on-line courses are just as hard and are more time consuming than traditional courses.

  • Rather than sitting in a physical classroom listening to your instructor lecture for 3 hours a week, you will be reading your lectures from a computer screen.
  • Online courses typically require much more reading and writing than traditional classes.
  • Instead of asking questions and receiving an instantaneous answer from your instructor, you will be either posting or e-mailing your questions. While most on-line instructors will respond to your concerns as soon as possible, you will need to be patient.
  • As you will not be in the classroom, you will need to be much more self-directed than it might seem. In other words, you have to take responsibility for your own learning.
  1. Some students truly need the face-to-face interaction with instructor and peers.
  2. Other students find that they lack the high level of responsibility it takes to tackle an on-line class.
  3. At a minimum, an on-line course requires students to use their time wisely, be organized, be self-directed, and be willing to try new modes of communication and learning.
  4. Successful students often use the weekly assignment sheets to create a course calendar so that they have an overview of all assignments. Good time management and planning are necessary skills.
  5. Students who do well are those who are willing to put in the needed time, read the text carefully (even the dull sections), and participate in the discussion boards the best they can.
  6. You will be expected to check your e-mail frequently, get all assignments in on time, not allow yourself to fall behind at all, discuss your concerns and questions with instructor and classmates, perhaps arrange to swap e-mail addresses with other students in the class, and participate fully each week.

The Best Things About Online Courses:

  1. Flexibility-for those of you unable to attend a regularly scheduled course, you will not be restricted by time and place--you get to do the weekly coursework when and where you want to do it.
  2. The asynchronous discussions allow everyone to have his/her say on the issues, and students can take the time to form thoughtful and clear opinions before sharing them with the rest of the class.
  3. No commuting to and from college: while others are driving in inclement weather or running through rain and snow to make it to class, you can be warm and dry working from your home computer.
  4. No transportation or parking problems to worry about.
  5. No need for childcare.

What You Can Do to Insure a Successful
Online Class Experience

What minimum equipment you will need:

  • A Pentium PC, a Power Macintosh, or any similar computer capable of connecting to the Internet.
  • A 28.8 modem is the minimum (faster is better)
  • An Internet Service Provider (ISP).
  • A graphical Internet browser such as Netscape 4.x or Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.x (it is worthwhile to download the latest browser)
  • Any e-mail program such as Eudora, Microsoft Mail, Hotmail, Yahoo, the mail handler provided with Netscape etc....
  • A word processing program such as Word or WordPerfect.

You should also have the following minimum skills:

  • Good basic computer and Internet skills:
    • Ability to install software on your computer.
    • Ability to download and install files from the Internet.
    • Excellent knowledge in navigating the Internet.
    • Proficient in use of search engines for research.
    • Ability to send and receive e-mail with attachments.
    • File management skills: copy files from a floppy or the Internet to a specific directory on the hard drive.
    • Word processing skills such as: how to create files, open files, save files, print files, and edit documents.
    • Converting word processing documents to rich text format (.rtf).
  • If you need to upgrade your computer skills please consider taking one of the excellent introductory computer courses offered at FRC.
  • The ability to read carefully and follow written instructions.
  • Self-motivation and self-discipline
    • Excellent time management skills.
    • Ability to be responsible for self-learning.