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Online Learning Readiness

What You Need to Succeed

What is distance education?

Distance education, also called e-learning, and online learning, is a form of education in which the main elements include physical separation of teachers and students during instruction and the use of various technologies to facilitate student-teacher and student-student communication.

"Distance learning." Britannica Academic, Encyclopædia Britannica, 7 Nov. 2016.

Distance Education at Jefferson State is defined as access to college courses via educational technologies and Internet based content delivery methods that reduce, and in some cases eliminate, the need for students to be in particular locations at set times to receive instruction.

  • Some Internet courses have on-campus requirements. Use the Check On-Campus Requirements link to learn how you can use the online class schedule to check Internet courses for on-campus requirements before registering.
  • All hybrid/blended and interactive videoconference courses have regularly scheduled on-campus class meetings.
  • Distance education courses follow the same semester calendar as traditional lecture courses.
  • Students enrolled in Internet and Hybrid/Blended courses become responsible for course content and assignments available in Blackboard on the official first day of class.
  • Students enrolled in distance education courses at Jefferson State Community College do not pay an additional charge associated with verification of student identity.

What does it take to be a successful online learner?

The successful online learner takes personal responsibility for his or her learning. The characteristics of a successful online learner include:

  • the ability to manage your time along with your other work and family obligations
  • the ability to prioritize your online class as much as a traditional class
  • self-motivation, since there may not be a professor or classmate continually checking in with you
  • technology skills, including comfort with computers and any software applications and plug-ins required to complete your tasks

From "Strategies for Success in Online Classes" via EBSCOs Learning Express Library.

Are you ready?

Online learning requires:

  • self-motivation
  • time management skills
  • enough time to complete required readings and activities

Learning Environments

  • Are you an independent learner?
    • Can you direct, motivate, and reinforce your learning on your own?
    • Can you find the information necessary to learn new tasks and deal with mistakes?
  • Are you a learner that prefers the personal attention from an instructor?
    • Do you want explanations for the objective of lessons?
    • Do you want the material introduced to you by your instructor?
    • Do you prefer interaction while you learn and assessment and feedback as you are learning?

Reflect on the type of learner you are.  Understanding the aspects of learning environments [independent versus a more supportive environment] will help you prepare and be more effective in your studies.

Levels of Interaction

  • Some online classes have very little person-to-person interaction and stress independent learning which can often feel isolating.
  • Some traditional classes can also be isolating where interaction is limited.
  • Alternately, online classes can be highly interactive and may require online discussions, group projects, peer reviews, and even video conferencing.

Consider your preferred style of learning.  Both traditional and online environments can offer elements of isolation as well as interaction.  Be prepared to encounter both styles or even a mix of styles in your classes.

The following learning environments may be encountered in an online course:

  • Defined or structured course environments:
    • common in introductory courses
    • textbook, required readings, exercises, assessments, and due dates are all set before you start the course
    • the learning path is well established by the instructor
    • there is consistency from section to section within the course
  • Collaborative online environments:
    • offer multiple means of engaging with classmates and instructor
    • live chats, web conferences, weekly discussion boards may be a requirement
    • discussions and lessons learned from others often drive the learning path
  • Adaptive learning environments:
    • allow you to learn and demonstrate mastery of the subject or skill
    • you move on to the next skill once mastery is demonstrated
    • very little interaction with classmates or even instructors
    • you may take an initial test to assess your current skill level then the course will determine what will be presented next [this is very common for lower level math courses]

Your Ideal Environment

Knowing the characteristics of the various learning environments will help you prepare for learning in either an online course or a traditional course.  To be successful in an online course, you must take the initiative to follow a few basic rules:

  • Prioritize your class
    • Since your online course is always "available", it can become too easy to tell yourself you will access it "later" or "tomorrow" which inevitably becomes "never".  Soon you will find yourself far behind!
    • Be sure to schedule a specific time for accessing your online course and at it to your calendar!
  • Netiquette
    • The etiquette of communicating on the internet is crucial; follow "Virgini Shea's Rule of Netiquette:
      • Be courteous.
      • Be concise.
      • Be correct.
      • Be civil.
      • Be careful!
    • Be respectful.  Your online class is not Facebook or Twitter.  It is a virtual classroom with rules and expectations!
    • Demonstrate with accuracy.
      • Do your reading and know the material.
      • Ask thoughtful questions and demonstrate tolerance and respect.
    • Do not ask inappropriate questions or invade another's privacy.
  • Always follow directions!
    • You must read and review directions carefully.
    • Review the rubric that will be used to evaluate your work; know what is expected of you on every assignment.
    • If you do not understand directions, ask your instructor for clarification!
  • Complete assignments on time
    • Use your course calendar and syllabus to plan for all assignments and activities.
    • Never put off the work in an online course! 
    • Completing assignments on time will keep you on track and also provide time for improvement and feedback.

Technology Requirements