Are online courses the right option for you?
Online classes may be a departure from the traditional classroom, but for many it’s definitely a change for the better. It brings the experience straight to you, allowing you to develop at your own convenience, making a better life for you and your family. The ultimate Best of it all: taking online classes lets you integrate your studies into your schedule, a convenience that fosters a golden opportunity to be successful lifelong learner.
Here is a quick list of 6 common questions, followed by several reasons to get excited about online courses.
6 frequently asked questions and 8 reasons to get excited about online courses
1. Are online classes an 'easy' route? Is the content easier?
Put simply, the answer is no.
It’s true that many online courses offer flexibility to learn at your own convenience, but that doesn’t change the amount of work you put in. You still have the same amount of work — just without the formal classroom setting.
The flexibility of online classes can be extremely helpful to busy adults, but that same freedom means that self motivation is vital to your success. For live online classes, it’s up to you to clear your schedule for the allotted class time, planning ahead to avoid distractions in your environment during class and keep yourself on track with the group. Often the live classes (and the Q+A segments) are recorded for you to replay at a later time which can be a great help if you’re not able to attend at the last minute, however you will need to play the recording and do any assignments before the next class.
2. Can I actually do better in online classes?
Students participating in online classes do the same or better than those in the traditional classroom setup. This is because the quality of education is the same; the difference is just in the delivery method.
Online lectures are a great option if you tend to feel lost in the crowd of a classroom. Recordings afford the ability to pause and take notes or even re-play parts you didn’t quite understand the first time. Plus, you can always reach out to your instructor for one-on-one help in various ways (like email, text or perhaps a private Facebook page) to ask questions about material you didn’t understand.
3. I’ve been hearing that time management is important.
So true. It’s your responsibility to take the initiative to keep up with your work when enrolled in online classes. It can be easy to let assignments slide and miss due dates because of the wiggle room and flexibility that come with online courses. It’s fair to expect online courses to take about the same amount of time and effort as traditional courses.
Procrastination is a slippery slope that can affect your outcome negatively. It’s important to stay organized and follow a schedule because, as in any class setting, it can be difficult to catch up once you fall too far behind.
In your planning, consider the amount of time you’ll need to spend to study or prep for class. Additionally, many online courses include required reading lists or videos to watch in addition to the time you spend in the live class. Review the course description carefully, and email the instructor if you have any questions.
4. I love group projects. Are they even possible with online courses?
Group projects, a staple of the traditional classroom, is becoming easier and easier for distance learners to tackle. With collaborative tools like Google Docs making it easier for groups to work together, don’t be surprised if you find yourself assigned to a group project in your online course. With the affordable live conference room technology today, breakout rooms are quite feasible.
5. What about making connections, and friends?
One of the absolute most wonderful and enuring benefits of attending classes is meeting new people, kindred spirits. Friendships, mentorships and networking can all come from academic experiences—but is that still the case with online classes?
Yes. We recommend that you make an effort to get to know some of your online classmates and your instructor. Outside of class there are numerous online services (like personal messaging) that provide excellent ways to interact and network with classmates, so be sure to take advantage of that and don’t hesitate to make the first move and reach out.
6. I’m not familiar with the technology. Is it complicated to connect?
It’s easy. You can connect via any device with an internet connection. Bridges will provide you with all the contact information you need to connect easily and if for any reason you have problems, we will help. Many of our instructors use a service called Zoom for their live classes. With Zoom there’s nothing to join or download, just clicking on a simple link will connect you.
Why all the excitement about online courses?
Many people say that online courses are less stressful because of all the precious time NOT wasted in driving or commuting to and from class. So much can be involved in physically getting to a classroom, whereas online you are in the environment you choose, safe from the stress of driving, parking, being out late, etc. Online classes save so much time, and that is something to be very excited about!
The instructor of your course may be located in another city, or even another country. The cost to travel in person to their location can be significant and “stopping your life” in order to be away from home may take a Herculean effort that defeats you before you even set out; you might have to take on extra debt or wait years for the opportunity to learn with this instructor in person. Online classes can save tons of money, and that is also something to be excited about.
For prerecorded self-paced online classes, it’s great to log in when you’re feeling good and your energy is UP, rather than commuting to class after a long work day.
No need to drop all those other responsibilities that you enjoy (kids, jobs, commitments.) And there’s no need to choose family or work over education; all is possible with online classes.
Location, Location, Location
Your course goes with you, whether you’re at home or not. You can travel without missing class. Some of us travel a lot during the year, whether for work or leisure. It’s possible to log into your online course from a hotel room or while waiting in the airport. Or maybe you have a favorite little cafe that is perfect for attending online class discussions.
No uncomfortable desks or squeaky chairs; no sneezing classmates. Some students attend class in their PJ’s, with a warm cup of tea. It’s easier to focus and concentrate when you are comfortable. Additionally, most people feel they learn more effectively in an online setting without the distractions in an “in person” classroom. It is your choice whether to send the instructor a private message, or speak aloud to ask a question in class.
People read and learn at a different pace. Online courses make it simple to find a pace that works for you; pause to make notes, or rewind the recordings and replay until you fully understand a lecture. You decide how much time (and when) you want/need to dedicate to your courses. And odds are that you’ll be enjoying yourself so much that your learning will be deep.
Online classes are a great way to meet individuals from around the world and form friendships with people who share your interests and passions. Even though your classmates may have different motivations to attend, you obviously share common interests and goals. No matter where everyone is located, it is easy to develop and grow your personal and professional networks of kindred spirits and like-minded people through online courses.
Substantial numbers of online students attend for personal knowledge and personal growth. Lifelong learners are motivated to learn and develop because they want to: it is a deliberate and voluntary act to indulge in curiosity, invest in a passion, or unlock potential. Lifelong learning enhances understanding of the world around us, nurturing self-sustainability, employability, providing us with more and better opportunities to improve the quality of our lives and the lives of others.