- What are the advantages of online instruction?
- What kind of computer equipment do I need to be an online student?
- How much computer knowledge do I need to take an online course?
- What if I need to talk to the instructor or other students privately?
- To whom can I talk if I have questions?
- How many hours a week will I need to devote to an online course?
Aside from the major advantage of online classes - convenience - studies have shown that there are several other important benefits as well. First, because students can work at their own pace and have more time to compose responses, discussions are often deeper and more satisfying than traditional classroom discussions. Also, online courses are highly interactive. Class sessions often center around discussions, and each student is expected to participate, thus insuring a diversity of ideas and opinions.
Online learning can bring students from all parts of the world together for an interesting mix of cultural perspectives. Additionally, students who tend to be more reserved in traditional classrooms feel "anonymous" and express themselves more freely in the online environment.
Many students find that the computer they have will work just fine for their online learning experience. Check minimum computer requirements to be sure that your current system will be sufficient.
Only basic computer knowledge is necessary. You should be familiar with using your computer, email communication, saving and retrieving files, using your word-processor, making your Internet connection and Internet navigation.
The course management software used by Missouri State University-West Plains allows you the ability to participate in private conferences just as easily as you can become involved in group discussions.
Does the lack of face-to-face interaction diminish the quality of education?
Keep in mind that online courses attempt to use the best of technology and are not meant to completely replace traditional classroom learning. Without question, the lack of immediate contact has its drawbacks, but most agree that it does not impede the educational process. In fact, some studies have shown that online students test higher than students who took the same class in the traditional format.
It's frustrating when you have a question and can only get a recorded message. That's why Missouri State-West Plains provides trained staff with whom you can speak about your education. See our Help Desk for information regarding how and when you can reach us.
It's hard to determine exactly how many hours you'll need to schedule as an online student. It varies from course to course and depends upon the level of difficulty. But remember that online courses are just as demanding as traditional courses, so set aside at least 10 hours per week per course (this includes preparation time).