Challenges in Online Education and How to Overcome Them
Going to college online is very convenient, but the perception is that online education offers some challenges that campus students do not have:
- It is harder to interact with the instructor
- Online education requires you to be somewhat tech savvy
- A reliable Internet connection is required
- Managing your time is essential
Let’s examine these issues one at a time.
Interaction with your instructor at Stevens-Henager is actually very easy. I am available to my students via several methods: cell phone, email, Skype, and Facebook. In addition, my Skype, email, and text messages are available on my cell phone, which is with me everywhere I go. The key is communication: both from the students and from the instructors. Because of the modular format of our classes it is critical that a student notify their instructor as soon as they have a question or problem. Both students and instructors need to check their email often and reply promptly.
Being tech savvy is not as hard as it seems. Stevens-Henager issues students a laptop with software that is needed for your degree program. Help from the school tech support or your instructor is just a phone call away. Accessing the online tutoring center and the collaborative live sessions is as easy as clicking any link for a webpage.
To function in an online education environment, a reliable broadband internet connection is critical. Dial-up is much too slow for participating in the online education environment. An alternative is using free wireless at public libraries and bookstores, but they may limit time and not allow online meetings.
Having discipline and managing your time is very important to your success. It is very easy to just put it off until tomorrow, but this attitude will just get you behind. Establish a schedule that you can keep to, and let those with whom you live understand that you need this time to complete your assignments and reading. Here are some great tips for managing your time:
- Check your syllabus: Before your course kicks off, read your syllabus and commit to due dates on your calendar. Then, designate study times for each class and stick to them.
- Check in daily: Turning school into a daily activity makes it less overwhelming, and it prevents students from getting caught off guard by syllabus changes, says ASU Online’s Popovich.
- Look ahead: Knowing what is due in six weeks, not just the next day, can help students maximize their time, Robinson Grochett says.
- Speak up: If you struggle or fall behind, don’t stay silent (Sheehy, 2012).
Understanding what is required of you and asking questions if you have any doubts will help you go a long way in your online education. Communication is your best tool, so make sure your instructors and advisors know what is going on with you at all times.
Sheehy, K. (2012, January 13). 4 Time Management Tips for Online Students. Retrieved August 28, 2012, from US News Education: http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/articles/2012/01/13/4-time-management-tips-for-online-students
Mitchell McDonald is the Department Chair for Networking in the Computer Science Department for the Online department of Stevens-Henager College. He holds a master’s degree in American history, a bachelor’s degree in information technology management, and nine IT industry–recognized Certifications from Microsoft and CompTIA. His areas of specialty are networking, system administration, and operating systems, and he has been teaching certification courses for the last 12 years.