Online education, sometimes also known as distance learning, is a relatively new way of interacting between educators and students in order to impart the information and testing needed to attain a diploma or college degree. It requires a level of discipline both from the teachers and the students as well as a limited amount of technical savvy in order to facilitate the classes.
Distance education makes use of many new technologies available both through the Internet and through more conventional means. If you wish to pursue an education this way, you may run into one or more of these technologies:
Discussion Boards – This technology is the most commonly used in online education. Discussion boards are able to receive posts as well as file uploads from student to instructor for grading, and list class schedules and assignments.
E-mail/Correspondence – E-mail correspondence is an important part of every online education. It provides preliminary contact between an instructor and his teachers, private progress updates, and even a final grade posting in some instances.
Podcasts – Podcasts are an audio recording that can stream through the Internet or be downloaded. These podcasts are a good way for instructors to provide a vocal review of work or instruction to the entire class that is clear and easily understood, even above reading on a discussion board.
Streaming Video – This newest technology is rarely used, but still an option in online learning. It allows for either unilateral or bilateral video communication between one or more persons and may serve as sort of a virtual classroom with the instructor teaching many people at once who are “dialed in” to watch the class.
Different Study Habits
Different technologies and instructional methods require different methods of learning than what you might be used to from an earlier, classroom education. Some of the differences you will encounter include:
The need for self-motivation: Online education requires self-discipline for study, since it generally has no lecture component and requires a good deal of reading in order to absorb the material and be ready to be tested on it by the instructor.
Good writing skills: Unlike a traditional education, studying online requires that pretty much all of your responses to the instructor’s tests, directions and assignments be made in writing, either on the message board or via e-mail. Your writing skills do not usually need to be expert for these classes, but they must at least be passable.
The ability to absorb what you read: Without a lecture component to the education, everything you learn will be through textbooks, and the online posting of documents, or possibly PowerPoint presentations. You must be able to read and absorb information from these sources alone..