Archive for September, 2011


5 Benefits of Online Education

There are many reasons to consider furthering your education online. Some of the biggest benefits of online college courses are:

 

  • Flexibility—you can work when you want, where you want. You can pace yourself and make the class work for you.
  • Lack of commute—you save time, money, and energy by not commuting to campus.
  • Cost—many online courses cost far less than traditional on-campus classes.
  • Networking Opportunities—meeting people from all over and making connections helps you build a widespread professional network that will last beyond your online course.
  • Effectiveness—many students find the interactive approach of online courses helps them learn material more thoroughly. Having the ability to work at your own pace may also help you learn better.

 

What do you think the most appealing things about online education are?

 

The Pros and Cons of Online Learning

Online courses can be a fantastic opportunity to further your education, learn new skills and meet new people. Like anything, there are various pros and cons to consider when deciding whether online learning is for you.

Pros:

  • You can set your own schedule
  • Ability to work from anywhere—one of our instructors actually taught a course while over in Italy!
  • No commute to and from campus.
  • No travel costs or parking fees.
  • You can set your own hours.
  • Classes usually focus on student response and interaction rather than on professor-led lecture.
  • For those more comfortable with written over verbal communication it may be perfect.
  • You can work with students from all different backgrounds all over the country.

Cons:

  • Technological issues can set you back—sometimes you feel like you’re at the mercy of the Internet gods
  • It can be hard to self-motivate when you don’t have to show up in person. Make sure to post your syllabus somewhere you can see it and consider setting calendar alerts on your phone or computer to remind you of upcoming assignments and exams.
  • Some people have a hard time focusing on a screen. Consider meeting up with classmates in your area to study or work on assignments, if possible.
  • You may need to wait a few hours for feedback from instructors and classmates. Time differences need to be taken into consideration.
  • You may need to brush up on your computer skills, which could be easier for some than others.

What are the most important pros and cons of online education to you?

How to Prepare for an Online Course

Are you taking an online course this fall? Whether this is your first or your fifteenth, here are some tips to help you be prepared.

  • Make sure you’re registered for your classes—nothing like trying to log on the first day and realizing you’re not actually in the class at all. Save yourself the hassle and double-check ahead of time. This is especially important as a new student.
  • Know your username and password so you can access the Learning Management System (LMS). If you can’t find or remember your user name or password contact helpdesk@CW.edu.
  • Spend time navigating so you know how to get around by the time the course starts. Go to http://cw.mrooms3.net to use the Campus Cruiser. The Moodlerooms tab to the far right in My CW/Campus Cruiser.
  • Make sure your internet service is reliable and consistent. If it’s not, arrange to do coursework in a place with strong internet service, such as a computer lab or coffee shop. Internet access is the responsibility of the student and lack of access is not an excuse for missing deadlines. A student who loses internet access should contact their adviser and their instructor as quickly as possible if it will cause a disruption in their coursework.
  • Test your web browser. As of Fall 2011, CW requires that students use either Firefox 3.5 or higher or Internet Explorer 8 or higher when contacting technical support. Students may choose other browsers at their own discretion, but CW may not be able to provide support for technical issues that occur and may be forced to limit or restrict access to older browsers that cause security or other issues. Students are urged to upgrade. Make sure you have a reliable computer that can run either Windows XP (Windows 7 recommended) or Mac OS X 10.5 or higher. We strongly recommend that you have a current machine that is under warranty. Moodle and other campus systems are available in multiple contemporary browsers. However, to receive technical support, you should be working in Firefox 3.5 or higher or Internet Explorer 8. CW strongly recommends Firefox to student users.
  • Make sure your have the software you need. For CW that includes: Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, and Adobe Flash, which you can download free from http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer. Specific classes may require additional software. Instructors will state this within the course itself. Current operating systems and browsers are very important.
  • Orient yourself with Moodle. Know how to:
    • Send messages
    • Post to the discussion forum
    • Upload files
    • Explore your MY CWpage.  Learn how to:
      • Access the library’s databases
      • Access other support services
      • Set up your workspace. Whether that’s setting aside a quiet place to log in at home or a café where you can bring your laptop, make it a ritual.
      • A few days prior to the start of class, log in to view the syllabus, what books you’ll need, and to find out whether the instructor has posted any early assignments.
      • Print the syllabus for each class and keep in a place where you can easily see them. Note upcoming exams and due dates of assignments.

Remember, sometimes it takes a few weeks to get into a groove, but with these tips, you’ll be well on your way to a successful semester!