Taking online classes at Georgia State University has many perks. Online courses offer additional flexibility for busy students, especially those balancing school, work, and family. Professionals looking for career advancement may find a fully online program option appealing, as well as busy parents seeking to provide for their families and returning students looking to pick up where they left off in school.
But if you've never taken classes designed for online before, you might not know precisely how they differ from a campus course. Are they harder? What's the best way to stay on track? Will I be able to come on campus for activities?
You're not the first to have questions about taking classes online, and you certainly won't be the last. But there are some insightful lessons you can learn from those who have succeeded in online courses. Here are seven things they wish they had known before embarking on their online learning journey.
Online Classes Are Not The 'Easy' Route
One of the most common questions asked on this topic is, "Are online classes easier?" Simply put, both traditional and online courses will be challenging, and your educational journey will test you before you can earn your degree. You will put in considerable work, time, and commitment if you take online classes. The flexibility of online courses can be beneficial to busy students. Still, that same freedom presents a need for self-discipline, organization, intentional communications with your professors and classmates, and time management.
You May Do Better In Online Classes
Suppose you're organized enough to keep track of deadlines for upcoming assignments, readings, and projects and self-disciplined enough to avoid procrastination. In that case, you might enjoy the amount of control you have over how and when to get it all done.
Online lectures are a great option if you tend to feel lost in the crowd of a classroom. They give you the ability to pause and take thorough notes or even re-watch parts you didn't quite understand the first time. Also, here at Georgia State, we have technology like Kaltura and Playposit that creates interactive lectures that pause and ask students questions automatically. This points to the strength of online being self-pacing and time for reflection/meta-cognition.
Sarah Helper, Assistant Director of Learning Experiences, adds more: “Anxious students don't often participate in live face to face or online discussions. In asynchronous online settings, though, these same students can read a discussion assignment and then go think, do research, write drafts, and edit before participating in the discussion. Not only is this a deeper way of learning instead of being put on the spot to talk, but it also teaches and enforces real-life academic and work skills that students need to be successful employees (especially when so much of our work is done remotely and hybrid in the modern workforce.)”
You're Going To Need Technology And IT Support To Be Successful
You will use your phone, tablet, and computer to access your online courses. Get acquainted with the software you will need and utilize orientation materials before class. To stay on top of your work, it is crucial to have a reliable internet connection and make sure your operating system is updated. Be sure to take advantage of your university’s online student resources like Georgia State’s iCollege page and this resources page to support distance learners .
You Can Make Or Break It With Time Management
Taking the initiative to keep up with your work is your responsibility. With the flexibility of online classes, you have to manage your time so you don’t let assignments slide or miss due dates on essential projects and tests. Follow the syllabus and stay organized so you don't have to play catch up in your classes.
Don't underestimate the time you will spend studying for your courses. Expect online courses to take about the same time as traditional courses.
Don't Think You're Exempt From Group Projects
The staple of group projects in the traditional classroom is becoming simpler for distance learners to tackle. With collaborative tools and video conferencing tools like Microsoft Teams making it easier for groups to work together, don't be surprised if you find yourself assigned to a group project in your online course.
You'll Want To Make An Effort To Make Connections
One of the benefits of going to school is the number of people it puts you in contact with. Friendships, mentorships, and networking can all come from academic experiences—but is that still the case with online classes?
While some online classes are definitely less personable than face-to-face, (even while others are high-touch and incredibly caring/interactive/connective), you can go through multiple online classes without really connecting to anyone. It's easy to miss out on all the networking opportunities and friendships that on-campus classes can provide. You should really make an effort to get to know some of your online classmates or your professor. Make sure you reach out and discuss assignments—and even meet in person with classmates and instructors if you're close.
With online platforms getting increasingly advanced and providing increasing ways to interact and network online, you still must be more proactive than you would in a classroom setting and make the first move to reach out to people.
Is online the right option for you?
Taking online classes may be a departure from the traditional classroom, but for many, it's a change for the better. This option brings the experience straight to you, allowing you to work at your own pace to make a better life for yourself and your family. Best of all, taking online classes lets you integrate your studies into your schedule at your convenience. If you have more questions about online options, email [email protected] or ask Pounce on our webchat.