Is Online Education For You?
Online Education is the most convenient way for adults with busy
lives that include full time jobs and family responsibilities to
obtain a quality education.
Adults are earning Bac
helor's degrees, Maste
r's degrees, and doctorates
online in every field through accredited colleges and
universities. Distance learning students are self-motivated and
independent learners. They are willing and able to take
responsibility for their learning and can accept a learning
environment in which the instructor is a facilitator of
knowledge application rather than a dispenser of information.
Adult students take with them into each course vast and varied
experiences and knowledge upon which further knowledge is built.
All that information and all those experiences are incorporated
into applying knowledge to real life and work situations.
Distance learning is not for everyone; but if taking control of
your learning appeals to you, then you should consider an online
What to Expect
Distance learning (DL) students learn to focus on significant
issues rather than readily available information. DL requires
the ability to relate new ideas and previous knowledge. Relating
and applying concepts to everyday life or work is a major
element of DL. Another major element is the ability to relate
and communicate online in a text-based medium. Students get to
know each other and work together through the asynchronous
threaded discussion forums of the course format, emails
between/among collaborative group members, mailing lists, and
synchronous (real time) interactive chat. Some universities have
technology infrastructures that include teleconferencing, audio
and video. While these latest are not yet the norm, as
technology becomes more widely available, more courses will
include these features as well.
Distance learning students must be able to recognize their
strengths and limitations. Excellent time management skills are
mandatory in an online course. The structure of a traditional
class is not present in an online class and sometimes DL
students fall behind in their work because there is no
requirement to "go to class." DL instructors assist students in
time management skills in a variety of ways, including posting
due dates and participation requirements. If a student does not
post assignments or respond to discussions, then the instructor
will send a private email or call the student to find out if
there is a problem with which the student needs assistance. The
structure is in the organization of units or modules - usually
one per week - just as in a traditional class in which the
student is physically on campus once a week.
How Much Time Is Involved in an Online Class?
If you take a graduate course on campus, you will spend
approximately three hours a week in class for a semester, which
is approximately 16 weeks. Usually graduate students spend
another 10-15 hours a week outside of class preparing
assignments, reading, and completing projects/papers. So if you
count sitting in class plus required outside work each week,
then you are spending between 13 and 18 hours a week for the
course. Travel time is also added to the number of hours spent
each week. Some people may be fortunate enough to live close to
a course site but there are plenty of people who have driven as
far as two hours away to get to a campus that offers a class
they need. As you can see, depending on how far you have to
travel to get to the class, that could add up to a huge amount
of your time each week plus whatever outside work you must do
The general rule of thumb for study time in traditional
undergraduate courses is approximately two hours of study for
every one hour spent in class. Since most traditional classes
meet for three hours a week, that is an average of six hours a
week study time per class. This makes the time spent for
undergraduate traditional courses an average of nine hours
weekly plus travel time. Some weeks will be more if there are
papers or projects due.
Distance learning courses require less time simply because you
are not travelling to and sitting in class. You can do your work
whenever you like. Whether you are a morning person or a night
owl, your schedule will fit your lifestyle. You do your work
when you can make the time and you do not have to give up one
night a week of your family time to attend class for a semester.
Most distance learning graduate courses state that, on average,
10-15 hours a week should be spent on course work. Some weeks
you might only spend 3-5 hours and some weeks (when a project or
paper is due) you may spend more time. Undergraduate courses
generally require an average of 6-9 hours of study each week.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Education
Online Education is surely not for everyone. However, those who
state that they could never complete a course without the
structured class attendance requirement every week are just
making excuses. Anyone who has worked in a full time job has
learned the time management skills and self-discipline that are
necessary for online courses. DL might not be for you, but you
owe it to yourself to discover whether or not there is a
legitimate reason for not taking advantage of online courses
rather than just assuming that you need the structure to
The advantages of Distance Learning include the flexibility to
* schedule classes/work. * participate in discussions at any
hour and have the ability to catch up on previous discussions
and contribute far more than in the restrictive time constraints
of a traditional class. * study and read materials at a pace
that suits your learning style. * focus more time and effort on
new ideas and information and not have to sit in class and
listen to lectures on content you already know. * communicate
with classmates from around the world who all contribute new
ideas and experiences to the course content.
There are also some disadvantages, which include
* a tendency toward procrastination. * difficulty staying on
track if one is not self-motivated. * no direct face-to-face
interaction with classmates and instructor. * occasional
technical problems that can be quite frustrating at times.
Are You Considering an Onli
Distance learning can give you the freedom to learn and study at
your convenience, in your own time, and on your own schedule.
Beyond those obvious advantages, you will also get to know your
classmates far better than you could in a traditional class.
Throughout my distance learning graduate degree program and in
my current graduate online teaching, I have met many wonderful
people with whom I still maintain regular contact via email and
the phone. We share professional and personal support and many
have become "long distance" friends. Some I have met in person
and some I may never meet, but this does not in any way diminish
the friendships that we have developed.
The ability to meet people and forge professional networks and
personal friendships around the world is one advantage that
simply cannot be found in a traditional class. Time and distance
aside, distance learning students soon discover that one of the
most valuable benefits is found in trading the somewhat limited
interpersonal relationships of a traditional face-to-face
classroom for a world-wide network and support system that can
be found only through online learning.
Get Started Now! Visit JustColleges' Onli
ne Education Center and request for free information from