Thursday, April 24, 2014

3 Challenges of Online Education and How to Meet Them

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When people get busy with life they look for other ways to do things that are less traditional than what was once considered the norm and education is no different. Because people need to work full time hours and they need to spend time with their families or they want to learn on their own schedule, adult students are turning to online education as a means of advancing in their careers and increasing their knowledge. Online education offers non-traditional students a great opportunity to get an education that might not be accessible to them otherwise but it also presents several challenges. These challenges can be met though and students can be very successful in their online learning.

Some of the challenges that online students may encounter include:

Communication

Some students find that they miss one-on-one verbal communication or the in-class communication in the form of lectures. There are no classes to go to and most online education courses have minimal (if any) face-to-face communication. Facial expressions, tone, and eye contact are some of the elements that are sometimes missed when taking an online course and some feel that makes it very impersonal.

If you feel that face-to-face communication is important you might want to look for a course that integrates things like recorded lectures, webinar meetings, and online chats with webcams. These things can make the online course feel more personal and can make you feel like you are in the same room with the person(s).

Working On Your Own

Many students find it a real challenge to get work done without the help of an instructor to talk about lessons with and other students to discuss lectures and assignments with. They may find it difficult to focus without the guidance of an instructor to tell them what they should be working on at the moment. For people that are motivated by others this can be a big challenge to overcome.

To overcome this challenge find out if there are others in your local area that are taking the same course as you. While the educational facility that is running the online course cannot give you names or phone numbers of people that are also taking the course you can let the instructor know that you are interested in meeting with other people that are taking the course in your vicinity and give him or her permission to give out your email. You might also want to find out if there is a discussion group or online chat that would help you and give you the social aspect that you crave.

Technological Add-Ons

While technology can add a lot to an online education program it can also prove to be a challenge for those that either do not have the knowledge or those that do not have access to technology that is used. Online learners that are using dial-up may have difficulty access video or audio streams or students may not have the right programs to access them.

Before beginning an online program ask about what you will need. Do you need to have high-speed Internet or will you be ok with dial-up? Do you need to have any specific type of software to view course materials? What kinds of technology are used? And if you are unsure of how to use them can they help you?

While there are several challenges for online learning they can be overcome if you ask questions first. Find out what help the school offers, how fast you can get help, and what other resources might be available. Also find out who you should contact when you have troubles and how soon you should expect a response from them.

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