Have you been thinking about heading back to school to finish off your degree? Or perhaps you would like to complete a course to help solidify your job skills? If so, then you may be wondering exactly how you will find the time that you need to dedicate to your education. Well, an online course can be a wonderful way to gain some more education without even having to leave your home or office!
What is an Online Course?
An online course is a class that is delivered to students over the World Wide Web. Online courses make use of the computer and the internet in order to deliver lectures, assignments, and other class materials to enrolled students. A type of distance learning, online courses are often referred to as virtual courses, web-based courses, or e-learning courses. Online education courses are now becoming extremely popular amongst students in the United States, particularly adult learners.
What Happens in an Online Course?
Everything in an online course happens over the computer. Most online classes have individual websites that you can log on to using your internet connection. Once you have logged on to your course website, you will be able to access all the materials that you need to be successful, including your:
- course syllabus
- reading materials
- lecture notes
- quizzes and tests
Additionally, most online courses allow students to communicate with one another by providing email services, chat rooms, and discussion forums.
Types of Online Courses
There are two main types of online courses:
- Synchronous: Synchronous online courses are courses that are offered at a particular date and time over the internet. Students log in to their course’s website and will read or listen to lectures, participate in discussions, or complete tests and exams at this particular time. Synchronous online courses offer online learners the opportunity to participate in real time with their instructor and fellow students. This type of online course often combines the use of video and audio components as well as web conferencing.
- Asynchronous: Asynchronous online courses allow students to attend class at any time that fits into their particular schedule. Students have access to materials, including lecture notes and assignments, whenever they choose to log in. Communication with the instructor and other students is not done in real time, but instead, is done through email and discussion boards.
Advantages of an Online Course
There are a number of advantages to taking an online course:
- Flexibility: Online learners love the flexibility that an online class offers them. When you sign up for a college course online, you can usually determine when you want to log on to your virtual classroom to complete assignments and tests. This means that you can you attend class at any time, day or night.
- Cost-Savings: Because online university courses do not require students to attend class at a physical location, students are able to save considerable amounts of money. Many students are able to save on room and board as well as on textbook expenses. The majority of online learners are also able to work full-time while attending classes online.
- Anonymity: Most online courses offer students a greater degree of anonymity than traditional courses do. This means that students can work without having to worry about stereotypes, competition from other students, or classroom anxiety.
- Technical Aspects: Students who enjoy using the computer and practicing their technological skills love the opportunities that online courses offer them.
Are Online Courses Recognized?
Most online courses are now recognized by employers, however, there are some online schools that offer less-than-stellar classes. In order to ensure that you are signing up for an online course that will be recognized by your employer or another college or university, be sure to find out if the school that is offering the course is accredited. Accreditation is a process whereby online schools are evaluated on their level of teaching. Schools that gain accreditation have been shown to meet high educational standards and should be accepted by all employers.
Who Should Consider an Online Course?
Online courses can be very rewarding, however they are not for everyone. Online courses can be very demanding and are most suited to students who:
- can dedicate at least 10 to 15 hours every week to their online course.
- have regular access to a computer and the internet.
- are self-disciplined and able to motivate themselves to study.
- have excellent communication skills, especially writing skills.
- feel comfortable using computers.
- don’t miss the atmosphere of a regular classroom setting.
Who Offers Online Courses?
A wide variety of educational institutions now offer online education courses to their students. As student’s lives become busier with work, family, and other commitments, there is a growing need for institutions to offer flexible course alternatives, like online courses. You can find online courses in institutions including:
- Traditional brick and mortar universities
- Online universities and colleges
- Virtual high schools
- online elementary schools