Is On-Line Education for Me?
Students learning in a traditional classroom develop relationships with their fellow classmates and teacher by having personal conversations on a regular basis, the student learning virtually often in attendance or performing independently. Virtual courses are “asynchronous,” meaning that students and the teacher do not have to be logged into the classroom at the same prescribed time. Virtual students most often will complete course assignments within a flexible schedule.
Students who enjoy physical face-to-face interactions with other students and teachers may not find the virtual classroom their best placement.
Below are some important academic characteristics and personality traits of successful students attending virtual school:
Is he or she an independent learner?
Students taking virtual courses must feel comfortable in a learning environment that places emphasis on individuals taking responsibility and ownership for their own learning. While the virtual classroom includes interactions between the student and teacher, they are not immediate as in a traditional classroom. Although teachers answer questions and provide clarification of information to students as they would in the traditional classroom, students must be comfortable waiting for feedback at times.
Virtual learners expectations might include:
· Reading through the current week's assignments and materials
· Thoughtfully reading the assignments for the class as assigned and identifying main points and supporting details
· Responding by a deadline to discussion questions as posted by the teacher
· "Discussing" through a discussion board (by a deadline) the responses of fellow classmates
· Completing and sending (by a deadline) an assignment to be graded by the instructor
· Completing an assignment by deadline in a work group comprised of four or five classmates
Successful students must be self-disciplined and goal-oriented as they work to complete their assignments and work with their classmates in their virtual class.
Basic Computer Skills
The computer is an integral part of the virtual classroom. While mastering the lessons of your virtual course, you do not want to be saddled with less-than-adequate computer skills. These basic skills including proficiency in sending and receiving emails with attachments, cutting and pasting from Word, and communicating with fellow students in discussion threads.
Set a Schedule & Keep to It
Teachers expect their students to be organized in setting a schedule that allows them to meet their deadlines. Virtual classes require regular signing in and posting of messages in the classroom in order to stay current with class assignments which include reading messages, watching lessons being taught, and interacting with the teacher online.
Teachers expect successful students to be in attendance online during the prescribed class schedule. In addition, most students find they are successful if they are fully present and interacting with the teacher during instruction.
Virtual students who are successful in completing their courses know how to schedule their time to meet deadlines for classroom discussions, work group activities, and graded assignments. Successful virtual students understand that others in their classroom are counting on their participation in classroom and work group activities.
Not Easily Frustrated
Students in a virtual class sometimes are faced with obstacles that are out of their control: computers can break, ISP servers can crash, and electric power can go out. A successful virtual student identifies solutions for unexpected issues by thinking ahead about solutions to potential problems.
Possible solutions for each of the above scenarios:
· Use a friend or relative's computer
· Access a computer in one of the computer labs on the MSD of Decatur Township campus
· Use the public library
· Communicate with your teacher via phone
Successful virtual students exhibit respect for the classroom environment and remember their "manners" when communicating to their fellow classmates and to their instructor. They understand that taking out their anger and/or frustration on their classmates and their teacher is not proper “netiquette” any more than it would be in a traditional classroom. In addition, they understand the ethical use of technology and have the ability to make good decisions using their device.
Take Responsibility for the Learning Process
Successful virtual students understand that their teachers are facilitators of their learning process and that the individual student must be a dedicated and goal-oriented self-starter. Students need to be motivated and goal-oriented. They put their schoolwork at the top of their list of priorities.
Successful virtual students are not afraid to ask questions; however, they ask for clarification after they have attempted to understand the material on their own by re-reading the instructions, re-watching instruction, or researching the problem using online resources.
Does the information above describe you as a learner?
· I am a self-motivated and self-disciplined individual.
· I am able to work independently with little direction.
· I have good time-management skills that allow me to schedule specific times throughout a week to work on my virtual course.
· I can adequately prepare and study for exams.
· I can effectively communicate any questions or concerns to my instructor.
· I am comfortable expressing myself in writing using grammatically correct, written statements and/or essays.
· I am not a procrastinator. I like to get things done today and not tomorrow.
· I will not miss the face-to-face interaction with my instructor and classmates.
· I do not give up easily, even when confronted with obstacles.
· I am comfortable spending several hours each week on a course to review course lectures/videos, complete course assignment, participate in chats and threaded discussions, etc.
· I agree that virtual courses can be more challenging than face-to-face classes.
· I have basic computer skills.
· I have access to a computer that is connected to the Internet and have a backup plan if something happens to my computer.
· I am comfortable in a "virtual environment" - email, sending attachments, threaded discussions, chat rooms, etc.