Academic Requirements for Distance Learning
Is Distance Learning right for you?
Distance Learning is a wonderful option for some students, including those who may find it difficult to attend classes on campus, or students who enjoy participating in alternative learning environments. Courses are best suited for individuals who are dedicated, self-disciplined, and ready to learn. And, although technology is increasingly user friendly, distance learning courses do require a minimum level of computer competency.
The following questions can help you determine whether distance learning is right for you. Consider each statement carefully and answer each one with yes or no. Then, compare each of your answers with the answers and explanations that follow.
Remember – these questions are designed to help you decide if distance learning is a good choice. An honest answer is the best predictor of your educational success.
Do I have reliable and convenient access to a computer and the Internet?
I am comfortable using a computer, sending e-mail, and browsing the Internet?
Are attachments, flash drives, and hard drives terms that I have heard before and understand?
If you are considering an online course or a course with an online component, you should have answered yes to the statements above. If you are not comfortable using a computer, you will probably be overwhelmed by the technology requirements of the course. Try taking a computer basics class before attempting a course that is dependent on using a computer. If you are comfortable using a computer but don't feel you have reliable and convenient access to one, you may find it difficult to fully participate and keep up with course assignments.
Am I considering a distance learning course because I think it will be easier than a class on campus?
If you answered yes, you might want to reconsider taking a distance learning course. Most students find that distance learning courses are as rigorous as on campus courses, if not more so.
Am I willing and able to access my course at least once per day, five or six days a week, and dedicate an average of 10-15 hours per week for study and class participation?
If you answered no, you might want to reconsider taking a distance learning course. Most courses require regular, active student participation. Generally, students find that they spend more time working on assignments and projects for distance learning courses than they thought they would. And, don't forget that you need to count "class" time as well as study time.
Am I comfortable expressing myself in writing and acquiring large amounts of information through reading?
If you answered no you might want to reconsider taking a distance learning course. Most distance learning courses require students to do a generous amount of writing particularly in online discussions forums. This type of writing requires the ability to express your thoughts, ask questions, and make constructive comments. In addition, online courses require a generous amount of reading. The ability to extract and synthesize information from written materials is essential for success in most distance learning courses.
Do I consider myself to be reasonably self-motivated and self-disciplined?
If you answered no, you might want to reconsider taking a distance learning course. The independence of learning at a distance can be wonderful if you are able to keep yourself on track. However, if you tend to put off doing assignments, you could quickly get behind and would probably find it very difficult to catch up.
When I don't understand something, am I comfortable asking for help from both my instructor and other students?
If you answered no, you might want to reconsider taking a distance learning course. The very nature of the distance learning environment requires students to take a more active role in their learning, which means you have to ask questions when you don't understand something. Remember, the instructor can't see your puzzled look!
Is taking a class on campus not an option for me because of my work schedule or other circumstances?
Is the class I am considering taking one I need to take to meet a specific goal?
If you answered "yes" to these questions, you probably have a real need to take a course that offers more flexibility and is offered at a time that is more convenient for you. Having a compelling reason for taking a distance learning course can help you stay motivated and on track.
In addition to academic requirements, there are some technical requirements for Distance Learning. Click here to learn more.