Your Course Options
There are a number of different forms that online courses can take. Some of these will be better suited to your learning style and your education than others. Before enrolling in any online classes, enquire about the learning methods, the time frame for the course, the interactions with the instructor and more.
One type of course offered online is the mentored course. This course involves more structure than other courses, as it combines self-paced lessons and assignments with instructor feedback and interaction. At various times during the course, you'll be asked to join discussion groups on chat sites, to e-mail your instructor, to chat via skype, and others. At the beginning of the course, the instructor will indicate when the group chat sessions will be and when your assignments are due. This gives the online course a bit more structure and more specific timeframes than do some other online courses. These courses will also require a basic understanding of technology, including how to enter a chat room and post messages, how to send finished assignments with attachments, how to use skype and more.
Self Paced Courses
In contrast, many online courses are completely self paced. This means that you may begin and end the course whenever you want to (within reason) and you can work at your own pace. You have virtually no interaction with an instructor or with other students. These courses usually require you to read a certain amount of material on the subject you are studying, to take quizzes or tests online, or to write papers that you will upload to your instructor or post online. You'll have the ability to email your instructor with questions, but will not have regularly scheduled sessions or interactions with this person. Many people enjoy taking distance learning classes in this way, since they can use their own time to complete the work. It does require a person to be quite self motivated and disciplined, however.
Another option that some online course programs offer is group course work. These are often tailored towards teachers, or groups that need to be recertified together in some way. These courses require you to form a small group within you will complete the work. During the course, you will often be asked to answer questions together as a team, to work on a group project, or to devise a plan of action as a group. Business schools, for instance, often use this model, as you'll need to know how to work in a group setting once you have your business degree. These courses tend to be quite fun, as you have others who can motivate you and bounce ideas off of. They do require a good deal of coordination, however, as everyone has to schedule their time together and coordinate when to get the work done.
These are but a few of the many types of online courses available to you. Find out more about the offerings through the university or program that interests you. Think about your learning style and needs before enrolling in a course and consider which type of course style will best match your needs and your lifestyle.