Pros & Cons of distance learning (online classes)
Class vs. Computer
There are a few questions you should ask yourself before determining whether online or in-class is the best learning environment for you.
- Are you a visual or auditory learner?
- Do you need direct access to your instructor?
- What is the cost difference?
- What is the supply difference?
- Are you on the go with your current job?
- Are you looking to relocate during the semester?
Being in class has it's advantages: the teacher is right there, you can bounce ideas off of your classmates, you have a preset time for class, you can take notes, you can ask the instructor to repeat the material.
The disadvantages of being in class are: you have to be somewhere other than home, you may not understand your instructor all that well or may have bad chemistry with them, your classmates might distract you, the time for your class might be inconvenient, traffic.
Advantages of online classes include: the freedom to attend when it's convenient for you, access to your instructor is increased along with their undivided attention to your questions, your classmates are always there to answer questions without picking up a phone, class is anywhere you make it, no gas required to get to class.
Disadvantages can be: the cost can sometimes be more, there may be more papers and assignments to make up for the lack of in-class time, there are still attendance rules, paying for portability may increase your monthly bills, reading on the computer screen can be a headache, you'll likely never see your instructor or classmates face-to-face, there is no control over groups you might be assigned to work with initially.
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What You'll Need
- A pc or laptop - a large monitor will help with eye strain.
- A comfy place to sit - be sure to have good low back support and soft, adjustable arm rests. You are going to be spending a lot of time in that seat.
- Your favorite snacks and drinks - stay healthy and alert!
- A portable laptop or notebook - preferably one that is not too heavy to carry
- A wifi card - allows you to connect to the internet from anywhere at anytime (you'll also need the service - most cell phone companies now offer this)
- A portable printer - if you are the type of person who needs to sit down and edit on paper, you'll want to be able to print and proof-read your papers on the road.
- A cordless mouse - prevent repetitive strain syndromes by using good ergonomics.
- A memory stick - transferring work from desktop to laptop made easy.
- A laptop bag - to carry all of this with you!
Tips to Keep Your Head Above Water
- The number one thing I can suggest for online classes, especially if you are assigned to work with a group, is to make sure that everyone in your group is signed on to the same online chat service (Yahoo, MSN, AOL, etc.) It makes it very easy to touch base with one another, to set up times for meetings (use a chat conference room), and to help each other through projects during the late night hours without disturbing the rest of your household or theirs.
- Other than that, it's all about time management and discipline.
- If you already have a full-time job, travel a lot for work, or are raising kids, I also suggest you get a housekeeper while you are in school!
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