|Perhaps you are wondering how my online section differs from a traditional, classroom-based section. Here are some of the distinctive features of an online section:
1. You and I will never meet in person, unless you voluntarily choose to arrange a meeting with me.
2. The online section is asynchronous, meaning that as long as you meet the course deadlines and requirements and check in to the Internet site for the course on every weekday that is not a holiday, you can work when and where you want.
3. You will have to use online tools extensively, especially WebCT, the Internet platform for the course. WebCT provides a variety of helpful tools such as email, Internet chat, web pages. If you are not familiar with how WebCT works, you will need to spend some time early in the term learning how to use the program's features.
4. The nature of the assignments and assessments for an online course may differ from those given in a traditional section. For instance, proctored exams are impossible for an online course, so you may have to write a paper instead. In addition, online students cannot participate in classroom discussions, so you will have mandatory postings to the online discussion boards.
There also are many significant similarities between online sections and traditional sections:
1. An online section and a traditional section of the same course are worth the same number of credits and count equally toward degree requirements.
2. The content of an online section is similar to that of a traditional section. What you learn online will be similar, but how you learn it will be different.
3. The academic standards for an online section and for a traditional section are the same. An online course is not watered down or dumbed down.
4. The time commitments for an online section and for a traditional section are the same. The College expects students to spend an average of about nine hours per week in the classroom or studying for a traditional 3-credit course. You should be prepared to spend roughly that much time each week for your online section plus some extra time to master the technological skills and knowledge needed for the class and to deal with any technological problems you encounter with your own equipment or with using WebCT. If you cannot spare that much time per week, then you should not enroll in this online class. (Keep in mind, though, that you will not be spending time commuting to and from campus for this online section.)
5. You will have the option to come to campus to meet me during my physical office hours.
6. I will have online office hours when you can reach me electronically for help.
7. I will answer questions by email or on the bulletin boards on WebCT. You typically should receive a reply from me within one business day.
Here are a few important questions to think about before you enroll for an online section:
1. Do you have sufficient technological resources to take an online class?
a. Do you have DSL, cable, or other high-speed Internet access? Dial-up service is likely to be painfully slow and will add to your time commitment for the class.
b. Do you have a computer that runs quickly on the Internet? Does your browser support Java?
c. Do you have a good word processing program that, if it is not MS Word, will save documents in that format without glitches in the text and layout? I require all word-processed submissions to be in MS Word format for Microsoft Windows.
d. Do you have Microsoft PowerPoint on your computer or a program that can read PowerPoint files without any difficulty? There will be many PowerPoint presentations online to help you learn the material.
e. Is your computer stable and reliable? If your computer crashed, was stolen, or was damaged, do you have a backup plan for completing the course (e.g., access to a second computer, ability to buy or borrow another computer, etc.)?
2. Do you have experience using computers? Can you:
a. Create documents using Microsoft Word for Microsoft Windows?
b. Upload and download documents from the Internet?
c. Send emails with attachments?
3. Do you get frustrated easily when using computers? If so, you may not like taking an online course.
4. Are you a disciplined and independent worker? Are you good at meeting deadlines? Because there will be no classroom sessions, the out of sight, out of mind principle can lead to students not keeping up with required readings, postings, and other assignments. If you know that you do not work well unsupervised, you should not take an online section.
5. Do you learn more from listening or from reading? My online sections deliver most content via written texts. If you need to hear something in a lecture to understand the material, my online section is a bad choice for you.
6. Can you work on your computer without being distracted by personal email, IM, games, etc.? Your computer will be an important component of the course, and you will need to be able to concentrate and stay on task while at your computer. If you think of your computer as a device primarily for entertainment, then you may have trouble focusing on your required class work.
7. Will you be disappointed never to meet me and your fellow students in person?
If going to campus is difficult for you because of children, work, distance from campus, physical infirmity, or another reason, then an online section may be right for you. Even if going to campus is not a problem for you, you may want to take this online course because of its greater flexibility. Nonetheless, you should carefully consider the information that I have given above before you make a decision. If you have further questions about my online class, email me or call me at (978) 542-6060. General questions about registration, tuition, etc. should be directed at the appropriate offices at SSC.
Online Course Links:
Continuing Education Online Credit Course Checklist