Do you have the time?
Time Availability – Be sure you have enough time.
In a traditional face-to-face class a rule of thumb has always been that you should be prepared to spend two hours outside of the classroom doing “homework” for every hour you spend in the classroom. “Homework” includes reading textbooks, doing research, completing assignments, and studying for tests. In a typical 3-unit class you will receive 48 hours of classroom instruction. Therefore the total time commitment for that class will be about 144 hours.
In an online class, the time commitment is much more difficult to estimate. Since you do not attend classroom lectures in an online class, you may mistakenly believe that an online class takes much less time. This is not true. Faculty and students alike report that an online class, if anything, may take a greater time commitment than a face-to-face class because the instruction you receive and your response to it occurs for the most part by reading and writing.
Time Organization – Are you a good time organizer?
Time organization is another factor to consider. In a face-to-face class time is organized for you. The class schedule tells you when and where to attend, and for how long. During that time an instructor tells you what assignments to do and when you must turn them in. If you miss something, you can always ask a classmate.
In an online class, there are no class sessions to attend. You must be proactive in visiting your class web site frequently to read the announcements, documents and assignments. It is up to you to keep to the schedule that the instructor presents in writing in the syllabus or class calendar. You must also take responsibility for independently reading and researching the material that the instructor discusses in her written instructions.
All this assumes that you are a good manager of your time. In an online class it is up to you to manage your time successfully. You need to make realistic judgments about how much study time is enough on your own. It is very easy to fall behind in an online class. In fact, this is the biggest problem among online students. Once you fall behind, it is difficult to catch up. If you are a good time organizer and a good independent planner, online classes are for you. If not, think twice before signing up.
How do the following statements apply to you?
- I am good at managing my own time.
- When I have an assignment that is due, I know how get it done early.
- If I need to schedule time to take an in-person exam or meet with my instructor, I am good at making and keeping scheduled appointments.
- I like the freedom of choosing when and where I will do my class work.
- I want to take an online class because I need to take it to meet my goals.
- I do not need a lot of face-to-face discussion or explanations in order to learn a topic.
- I do NOT think an online class will be easier than an in-person class.
- I like having all the time I need in order to formulate the answer to discussion questions.
The more of these statements you said “Yes” to, the more likely online classes will be a good fit for you.
Successful online students manage time to ensure that assignments are done before their due dates, without the sort of prompting from an instructor that is often taken for granted in a classroom environment.