The appeal of distance learning continues to inspire people to pursue this new method of obtaining a higher education. According to a 2015 study conducted by the marketing research firm, Ambient Insight, the number of online students is projected to triple before the year 2017.
Below are just a handful of important checklist items first-time distance learning students will want to keep in mind when preparing for this new take on the college years.
Reliable Internet Access
This may seem like common sense but it is still an item worth mentioning. The bulk of your coursework will consist of not just completing assignments and turning them in via email, but being actively involved in online forum discussions, virtual chats and other related activities.
If you currently have issues with your Internet connection at home or are only able to access wi-fi at places like the library and/or the local coffee shop, make sure you can meet the time commitment required for your online classes. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure you have the most updated versions of the software applications needed to access and view class documents.
First-time students dealing with an online college and university will want to double check that they have all of their login information for each of their classes. Unlike attending a regular classroom, students in online college courses typically have an account created for them via a special website or platform, such as Blackboard.
This type of “e-Education platform” is basically a one-stop resource for all things related to distance learning. Using this site allows students and instructors to receive, send and share information, such as curriculum, project schedules and deadlines, homework assignments, online exams and multimedia presentations.
Blackboard has become such a valuable resource when it comes to distance learning that individual colleges and universities even have their own Blackboard specific websites for students and instructors, such as Blackboard – Stony Brook University and Blackboard- Fresno State University.
Despite the majority of the coursework taking place virtually, many online classes still require textbooks. The good news is that with distance learning, students have more flexibility when it comes to how they acquire their college textbooks.
These days it is all about downloading digital versions instead of purchasing hard copy textbooks. Students tight on funds have an abundance of sites that specialize in offering textbooks free of charge. Technology also makes it possible for students to download books not just to their laptops but their iPhones and iPads as well.
According to US News and World Report, work that is no longer copyrighted, such as history books and classic literature texts, are among the main types of textbooks available for free download online. This is a great way for students—especially freshmen and sophomores—to get the books they need for their online courses without spending a small fortune.
Because not all online courses are the same, it is up to each individual to thoroughly review the course syllabus for each of their courses and make sure they have all of the necessary resources beforehand.