Success with online courses requires a different set of skills than those used in a face-to-face course. You must be self-paced, self-controlled and diligent about your coursework. You also must have access to a computer that is powerful enough to be able to access the course materials and have Internet access.
If you answer "no" to any of the following questions, you will probably need to make adjustments in order to succeed in online courses.
- Are you self-paced?
- Do you usually finish assignments on time?
- Does the computer that you will use to access the course meet or exceed the following specifications?
- Is your computer running PC (Windows XP, Vista or newer) or Mac (10.3, 10.4, 10.5)
- 128 MB of RAM
- 2 GB of free disk space
- Sound card with speakers (for courses with multimedia)
- Ethernet or Wireless network card (for high-speed Internet connection) or 56K modem (for dial-up Internet connection)
- T1, DSL, Cable, or Satellite high-speed connection (56K dial-up will work, but the online course system will run slowly).
- Do you either already know how to use BlackBoard or can you learn to use applications on the computer easily?
- Can you install needed programs or adjust settings?
If you answered "yes" to all of the above questions, you are likely to do just fine. Actually, online learning is not more difficult, or less effective, it's simply different. Once you get used to "going to college" from your home, computer lab or library, you may find the overall experience to be even more rewarding than face-to-face classes. The most important thing to keep in mind is that it is nearly impossible to catch up on an online class once you get behind; there is simply too much reading and writing involved.