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To study online or on-campus
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For online classes you are very independent. In fact you should not expect anybody to help you. You have to do everything yourself. It's very engaging because you don't know anybody and nobody knows you. It's very tempting to cheat but this can backfire on you during the final examination which is a closed-books and closed-notes thing. If you spread out your work nicely it does not feel like a lot of work. You need to be literate in computers for you to succeed in e-learning. It requires you to know computers and how they work. At least know how to navigate through them. Get a newer computer or laptop. It should be able to run quite fast and be able to download the assignments and enable you to send in your answers easily and fast. There are certain programs that are unable to run or download in slower or older computers meaning if your professor is using those, then you are in trouble. If you are not a fast learner you might as well go ahead and enroll for an on-campus mode. Online courses require you to take weekly assignments and homework apart from reading e-books and watching lecture videos and also participating in discussion forums. You have to keep up with these or you will be left out at some point. If you are a procrastinator don't take an online course. You can't wait until the last minute to turn in your assignments, homework, exams and labs. What if your computer was to crash or anything? Power failure or a virus maybe. You can't submit late homework because, for one, no one will listen to any excuse that you may have for trying to submit late assignments. If school is not important to you, don't take an online class. You are not going to do your assignments. Go to on-campus where you will always need some pushing to do your work. Tutorials on how to navigate around the course system is very helpful to familiarize yourself with before start of the course. Where to check your grades, where to find your assignments, lessons and other learning materials is what is taught in this short course just before the main course would commence. Buy a calendar and use it every single day. This way you will not miss a quiz. To sum it over the advantages of online classes are; flexibility, less cost, mobile, global compatibility, tailor made for you and no traveling required. Disadvantages include; lack of control, doesn't appeal to everybody, learners feel isolated, not good for all learning styles and there are also technological issues to deal with. There are things you have to consider before embarking on an online course. Equipment; how much do you already have and how much do you require to buy. Computer skills; what level of computer literacy are you in? Are you able to work with computers easily?
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What is online study
No matter where you live you are never alone. The colleges build support network that will see the students through. You can be living in the most inaccessible area in the world but all you need is open your laptop and log on. You can access all the course information that you need; lecture notes, study material, even chat and collaborate with your classmates and lecturers. There are online libraries available. Some e-courses will require you to go for a practical component on-campus. This is fine in getting a feeling of a real university experience. You may, however, never need to go to campus at all apart from when you finally need to attend your graduation ceremony on-campus. Most online students study part-time or at their own pace.
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How do you compare online to regular classes
Online classes are quite different from in-class classes. You learn more when the classes are practical in-class class. People like listening to lecturers, being there physically, taking notes and really getting the material into their head. If you have some sort of query, you can ask a student sitting next to you or you can go to the teacher before or after class to ask them about any question you might have. You are more engaged in class because you might have group exercises. You can work on specific questions as a group or tackle example problems in class. In fact you will find that you understand a course better if you took it on-campus than online.
With online classes you are very independent and really don't have much resources that are available to on-campus students. The forums are not so very helpful at times. Most of the times the teacher does not answer your question. Teaching assistants may not be very knowledgeable thus when a professor leaves duty of answering forum messages to these guys, it's not the same as if the professor would have answered. Even when the professor has to deal with huge online classes, they still need to do it on their own rather than trust the TAs, in like, answering forum messages from students. In such cases, it shows that the professor is really dedicated and he/she is spending time helping the students in answering their questions. The TAs might not be sure of and an answer and might advice you to give them time to double check with the professor. This takes some time. Homework queries on forum don't receive attention right away especially if you saved it for the last day. A lot of times they don't even answer these homework queries you might have. This is in spite of even posting in the class discussion forum. You end up turning to other methods to help yourself, e.g. reading the text book and do it on your own.
Online classes go a lot quicker than in-class classes. In in-class class the lecturer usually moves a lesson for some other convenient time if they find that there is no ample time to fully teach it. On the other hand in online classes you are forced to read multiple chapters per week and usually you have homework for each chapter and also quizzes. You have to read the book. You have to do the homework. You have to do the quizzes. You have to plan all these. You have to really manage your time wisely and spread everything out because it is a lot of material and it usually goes fast.
It's easy to cheat on online classes during homework and quizzes by, maybe, consulting your e-books and the search engine for answers. The only problem is that the final exam is usually done on-campus and if you have been cheating throughout, then that is a problem. You have to memorize the material to cope with this sort of an exam. Because reading is dry, nobody is lecturing you, it is hard to retain and understand the information in the case of online mode of learning. The quizzes and homework can be checked through books, meaning you don't actually need to memorize these things. The final exam is a closed-book, closed-notes, not withstanding that it will take a big chunk of the final grade, above 60 per cent in some cases.
Today you can watch lectures online in form of video and power point but if you are going to class and its mandatory then this is different from watching it in your computer. In video the lectures feel longer than if it was live in a class. When you are watching the lecture, reading the course books, doing homework and quizzes at the same time for online classes, it is very demanding and requires you to manage your time wisely. Lectures in class are so good you don't really need to read much of textbooks. You may learn more as such. For online classes you have more freedom to do your things and settle down when you have time.
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What you have to consider before taking an online course
You need to be literate in computers. Online course require you to know your computer functions fairly well. At least know how to navigate through the stuff. Get a newer computer or a laptop. You need a fast computer which is able to download the assignments and also enable you to comfortably send back your answers to the assignments. You have to download certain programs which are unable to download on slower or older computers. If you are not a fast learner, don't take an online course. If you are not a fast learner you might go ahead and enroll for on-campus mode of study. Online courses move very fast yet you have to keep up with the weekly assignments and quizzes. If you are a procrastinator, don't take an online course. You can't wait until the last minute to turn in your assignments. What if your computer should crash or something? Power outage or a virus maybe. You can't submit late homework no matter how good your lateness excuse is. If school is not important to you, don't take an online course. You are not going to do your homework. Go to on-campus mode where you will always need some sort of pushing to do your work. Tutorials on how to work around the course system is very helpful a course. It is usually run in the first week before the course starts. It is very helpful in familiarizing yourself with the system that will be used by your college. Where to check the assignments, your grades and course information, all these is in the tutorial course. Invest in a good calendar where you will jot in all the important days of the course. This way you are sure to spread your time wisely and also never miss out on a homework, quiz or exam. If you don't understand anything ask your professor. Ask other students. Use e-mails to communicate, maybe. If you don't ask you can do everything wrong. They will not inquire from you as to why you failed to turn in your homework or why you did everything wrong. They don't care. It would be different if it was an on-campus thing.
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Disadvantages and advantages of studying online
The need for additional time; some online courses take longer to complete due to the amount of reading and writing involved in each module. Many online courses require students to read and write more e-mail messages and posts on discussion forums. Many e-colleges are using videos to deliver content as a forum for instructor presentation and collaborative learning. The single greatest advantage of all the extra materials, whether the e-mail messages, forum posts or video lectures is the ability to review what you have watched or read. This is not possible in face to face learning environment. Videos are made less boring by throwing in quizzes and other activities in between these video lectures. This also makes the material more meaningful and interesting, and also improves the students' retention and overall understanding by demonstrating how the theory of the discussion can be applied to solving problems or examining an issue.
If you don't keep up with the work, you can fall behind and may end up failing the course. This may be due to procrastination. One of the most significant problems with online learning is the tendency for the student to wait until the last minute to complete their work. Such students (procrastinators) tend to post less often on the forums, isolating themselves from the rest of the participants. Many e-courses today require that students participate in learning teams, which forces them to interact with other students and consequently decrease their opportunity to procrastinate. Online students feel physically separated from their instructor. To improve on this students are required, in some cases, to write their biographies. A short essay of who they are and why they decided to return to school. Participants are then required to read at least two of those bios from their fellow students and then post their responses. This helps students create community and may minimize students' isolation mentality.
It's easier to run theoretical courses than those that require students to have a feel of real objects, e.g engineering courses. Only well established e-colleges venture in courses which require the student complete a practical lab as part of examinable module. We also have this problem of digital inequality. This refers to a situation where people from more privileged groups have greater access to appliances like computers, tablets and smart-phones both at home and in school. Those from less privileged groups only have access to these in school environment while also internet accessibility is a major issue for the less privileged group. This means that it is harder for such students to take an online course than it would be for the former group. With high speed internet connectivity it means you are able to access better information easily and cheaply.