Learning About Online Courses
The 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning reached out to 2,500 colleges and universities; feedback from the survey showed that nearly 5.6 million college students were enrolled in one or more online courses during fall 2009. This student online learning enrollment number represented an increase of one million students over the previous year. One key feature that sets online courses apart from other college classes is the fact that online courses are taught virtually.
An online course definition at the Community College of Philadelphia states that “online courses are delivered through a course management system that allows students 24/7 access to their courses.” This online course definition highlights one of the key benefits associated with taking online courses, the chance to complete college studies independently and on your own schedule. Some colleges and universities also make it possible for you to combine online courses with classroom courses, offering you the opportunity to interact with your professors and classmates in person as well as using a computer.
Other than a computer, additional tools generally required to take a virtual class include:
- Internet access (having high speed Internet access, including a fast web browser, can help you to research, finish and submit school projects in shorter amounts of time)
- Email (your college professors may prefer you to keep in touch with them using email)
- Telephone (a landline or cell phone will generally suffice)
- College textbooks (yes, you generally still need to get school books to take online courses)
- Login and password to access private college blackboards, message boards, file sharing documents, etc.
College Courses You Can Take Online
Another name virtual classroom courses are referred to by is distance learning courses. Furthermore, online courses are offered across a variety of disciplines. You can even earn undergraduate and/or graduate degrees by taking online courses. For example, you can take online courses in subjects like:
- Creative Writing
- Marketing and Communications
- Social Sciences
- Accounting and Finance
- Theatre Arts
- Cultural Studies
- Political Science
- Industrial Psychology
- Medical Assisting
In addition to having a reliable computer and Internet access, to succeed at school while taking online courses you may need:
- Strong time management skills
- Project management skills
- Self-motivation (some schools assign you an academic advisor you can reach out to when you feel you can benefit from encouragement, direction, guidance or motivation)
- Determination and commitment (good online courses are generally as rigorous as classroom courses)
Contact the accredited college or university you’re thinking about taking one or more online courses through and finding out the type of computer and software needed for the courses you want to enroll in. For example, you might need certain types of software to complete accounting courses. To access video programs, you also might benefit from having a computer that has plenty of hard drive space and random access memory (RAM). You may also qualify to receive financial aid to help you pay for online courses you take at accredited colleges and universities.