A moment of self-reflection is in order before diving into eLearning. This unique environment is not ideal for all students, and it's better to determine now if it's not for you rather than at midterm.
Consider the following desirable qualitites in a distance learning student. Then, if you think you fit the bill, take the quiz to see how you rate.
Why are you considering a distance learning course?
The source of your motivation is an important factor in your eventual success or failure. If you're juggling a job, taking care of a family, pursuing your education and trying to maintain a semblance of a life, then the flexibility afforded by distance learning could be a huge plus for you.
However, if you have the idea that a distance learning course will be "easier" or less time-consuming, then you are probably in for a rude awakening!
Are you in control?
Seriously, self-discipline is not an option for the distance learner. You must be focused and able to work independently without constant prompting. You won't have to face a scowling instructor when you don't turn in your homework, so it's easier to put things off.
Remember, in most cases you will be working alone with little, or at least much less, interaction among students and instructor. If the social aspect of a class is a priority for you, then this environment is probably not for you!
How much time will it take?
Good question! Estimates of time spent on an online course is usually as much, and often more, than the same class taught face-to-face. Effective time management and organizational skills are critical -- you must be able to organize your time and resources. Setting weekly and monthly schedules to plot out how much material you have to cover and target dates for completing assignments helps tremendously.
If you're a major procrastinator, the stress of putting off volumes of work then playing catch-up at the last minute may be too much for you!
How do you learn best?
Consider your learning style. Do you prefer learning by listening, looking, reading, or doing? Is classroom discussion important to you? Do you need constant reassurance and instant feedback?
There are many delivery modes available for distance learning -- Web-based, satellite, compressed video, TV, print, and more. You can find the right match for your individual learning style in a distance learning course, but it may require some research.
Are your academics skills strong enough?
Only proficient readers and writers need apply. Obviously, the volume of reading will be large in most distance learning courses. The instructor has to get that information to you somehow. If you have diffculty comprehending the average textbook, it could have a profound effect on your ability to succeed in some online courses. On the other hand, some instructors present information very basically and clearly. The best approach is to do your research, as mentioned before. Check out the course site and see what's expected.
The volume of writing is almost always sharply increased. If you absolutely hate to write, you could end up quite miserable. The plus to this environment is that you have plenty of time to formulate what you want to say, revise your written assignments and/or responses, and use the ever-supportive spellcheck!
Are Online Courses Right for You?
If you're wondering whether or not to take an online course, take a moment or two to complete this quiz. It will help you to decide if this delivery format is a viable option for you.
No one but you will see these results, so be honest with yourself.