Recently, our college has started offering online classes. I thought this would be a great way for me to earn my keep and offer me more flexibility. Unfortunately, I instead find myself stuck in front of my laptop much more than I’d like.
I’ve received quite a few student emails claiming that they can’t figure out how to work the site, don’t know how to post on the forum, don’t know how to find out when things are due, don’t have internet at home, so are at the mercy of the library, etc. This leads me to 3 tips for taking online classes.
3. Be prepared to read, a lot. Yep, you must read the book. You also must actually read the syllabus, the assignment instructions, the forum posts, the supplementary information I post, and anything else related to this class. See, you aren’t sitting in a classroom where you hear the information. How else do you expect to know what to do? The computer isn’t going to magically transmit the information from the website to your brain. We just don’t have the budget for that kind of technology. Read, damn it!
2. Plan for “technological issues.” It will undoubtedly happen that your internet goes down, your computer crashes, or the school’s server goes kaput for a period of time this term. There is no way around it. My syllabus states problems with technology will not be accepted as excuses for not submitting work on time. I don’t care if you “worked so hard” on it and “don’t think it’s fair” that you’re penalized for something that you “couldn’t help.” Don’t wait until the last minute to submit your work, and you won’t have to worry about it when your processor decides to burst into flames 5 minutes before the deadline.
1. Avoid taking an online class if you don’t know how to use a computer, the internet, or email. I just can’t abide this level of stupidity. I had a student tell me that they’ve never even been on a computer before this class. Are you kidding me? I’ve received numerous phone calls asking how to get to the website, how to attach a file to an email, and what it means to download an assignment. Really? I don’t teach a computer class. If you aren’t familiar with a computer or the internet, take a computer class before you even think about enrolling in an online class. You can pay for one here, or take them free at the public library.
For those of you suffering with me, what additional tips would you provide to students who’ve chosen to learn online?