Is Distance Learning Right for You?

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Online learning is a whole new world for me. It’s difficult to know when/if you’re ready to approach a new learning environment and even harder to tell if it’s going to work for you. It doesn’t matter how great your operating system is or how technologically literate you are. It all depends upon your motivation and organization.

In almost everything I read, including the online readiness assessment sponsored by SDCC, being an online student takes plenty of dedication and will constantly test your time management skills. Which was in a way surprising to me. I think that many people assume that taking an online class will be so much easier than attending a lecture. Online is on your own time, you’re not required to attend any session, and most assignments are done asynchronously with your fellow students. But the more I read the more I realized that online learning is the complete opposite. In the Tips for Success section on D2L, a survey conducted of SLIS students found that they actually spent more time working on online classes than they had while attending traditional lecture based classes.

Needless to say my mind was somewhat blown. But when you stop to think about it, it makes sense. Everything is on your own time. You don’t have a professor lecturing to you while you take down notes. You must read it and take notes on your own reading. You must complete and remember your own assignments instead of TA’s breathing down your neck asking you when you’re finally going to turn in that paper.

The Is Online Right for You? article said it perfectly, online learning is not for those who don’t want a challenge. In order to succeed you not only have to be self-motivated, you have to be disciplined, outgoing, and your own advocate in everything you do. No one is going to hold your hand here. You’re going to have to plan your own lecture series instead of just anonymously attending one. Adopt some of those Strategies for Success. Make a calendar for yourself, log on the same days every week, create folders. Do whatever you need to do to remember when things need to be done even if you have to paste sticky notes to your face. Just be engaged, communicate effectively, and enjoy yourself. If you do there’s nothing that can stop you succeeding.

One response »

  1. I agree completely that online classes are more challenging than traditional lecture based classes. Going to a lecture is easy-the professor explains the material and reminds students about assignments. In an online environment, it’s all up to the student, and you’re so right about how it really tests students’ self-motivation and discipline. Let’s hope we all find that drive to continue to be engaged in SLIS!

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