Getting the Most From Your Online Experience
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
I’ll have more free time if I take online classes, right?
I can remember the first time I took an online class. I was just starting my master’s degree, and the whole program was available in an online format. From the time I first considered starting this program until the first day I logged into classes, I had a notion in the back of my mind that since the classes are going to be online, it will be easier than my undergraduate degree. I was very wrong. Besides the obvious fact that I was now working on a graduate level, online classes proved to be a challenge in ways I hadn’t imagined.
One of the misconceptions I had about taking classes online was that I would have more free time than if I took classes face to face. This was not at all true, at least from my experience. I had reading assignments, discussion boards, projects, papers and tests. Most of those things are the same things that are normally required for students who attend in the classroom. And they take just as much time for online students as they do for students who attend an actual classroom, if not more time. When you attend a lecture every week and are in conversation with your professor and other classmates, your textbook reading serves as a supplement to what you’re learning. It reinforces what you heard your professor say in person and what you’ve talked about with your classmates. In the online world, while you my watch a lecture on a video, you’re still somewhat disconnected from the lecture. If we’re being honest there’s a bunch of other things going on around us to distract us from the lecture. That’s assuming you even watch the video lecture (if there is one).
Another thing to factor in is the discussion boards. Since you don’t get to discuss issues with your classmates and professors face-to-face, you do so in an online discussion board. Dialogue with a person - or people - face-to-face takes much less time than it does for you to read what everyone has to say and come up with a response and then to type that response. This is an important process. Discussion with your peers helps you think about what you’re learning and to see if from a different vantage point. If done correctly, however, it can be more time consuming to discuss class topics online than it does in the classroom.
To get the most out of your online experience and to make sure you can pass the class, you must invest quite a bit of time into your studies. At JBU, we recommend that you spend from 10-12 hours per class per week on your studies. In other words, if you are taking two classes in a term, you should expect to spend around 20-24 hours a week to be a successful student. This is about the same amount of time you would likely need to spend on a class if you were attending face-to-face. You would spend around three hours a week in the class room and another 7-9 hours a week reading or working on assignments. Online learning is unique in that it allows you to decide when you can invest those 10-12 hours per week, whereas, if you were in the classroom, you would be tied to your class schedule. This is the great benefit to taking classes online. You will likely not find that your schedule has more free time that students who take classes face-to-face, but you will find that you have more freedom in how you manage your time. Just be careful that your freedom doesn’t lead to procrastination (another topic for another time).
Academic Advisor/Enrollment Coordinator for Online Programs