Rock Valley College

Are you ready for online learning?

An online learning environment is ideal for students who are self-motivated, comfortable working independently, and can effectively balance competing priorities and time. While online learning has a lot of positive attributes, it comes with a lot of responsibilities and may not be the best fit for every student. It is important to ask yourself if online learning is right for you.

Take the assessment for online learners through OASIS (Online Assessment System for Internet Students) to help you get a better understanding of what to expect from an online course.

You should also keep the following points in mind before enrolling in an online course:

Online courses aren't easier.

Just because you aren't going to class every day doesn't mean that an online course will require less work. In fact, online course can actually be more work because you will largely work independently, which comes with some extra responsibility and effort. You can expect online courses to have the same rigor and expectations as face-to-face courses.

Online courses require the same time investment as traditional courses.

Online courses may be more convenient but they have been designed to take about the same amount of time as you would spend if you were taking a traditional class. Aside from the time you save in getting to and from class, you should be putting in the same amount of hours for an online class as you would for one on campus.

Use this rule of thumb to estimate how much time your online class will take: for each credit hour, students should expect to spend an additional 2-3 hours a week doing homework, readings and discussions. For example, a 3-credit class would require 3 hours of class time, plus 6-9 hours of study, resulting in 9-12 hours total weekly investment.

For accelerated courses, like those in the 12, 10, 8, or 5-week sessions, you can expect to spend significantly more time per week completing your coursework.

Online courses require strong time management skills.

If you have a tendency to fall behind in your coursework and procrastinate, online courses may pose a challenge to you. While you will not have set class times, you will still need to meet course deadlines for reading, viewing lectures, participating in discussions and handing in assignments. If you feel you won't be able to keep up with this without the structure of weekly class times, then you may want to consider on-campus or hybrid courses instead.

Online courses require some tech savvy.

To excel in online courses, you need to be comfortable using a computer and navigating the Internet. You will need to be able to use a web browser, email and a word processor and understand how to save, send, share and open files in different types of software. Online courses are not responsible for teaching students how to use a computer (save for computer-focused courses), so students must come prepared with these skills. If you don't have these skills right now, don't panic: it is possible to learn many of the required skills before your course begins.

Online courses require active participation.

Online courses aren't a place to hide out. You will be expected to discuss ideas covered in the course and to interact with professors and other students, as most online courses demand engagement and a high level of participation as part of the grade.

These points aren't meant to discourage you from taking online courses, only to help you get a realistic idea of what you can expect from an online course or program of study so that you can prepare yourself and ultimately have a more successful experience as a student at Rock Valley College.