I Want a Degree and I'm Good on the Computer, but Really, What is Online Learning?

Online learning has been around for nearly two decades, but many people still wonder, "Exactly what is online learning?" The answer is simple, but the details are more complex. Simply, online learning is the idea of attending school through the Internet. Also called " e-learning," "virtual learning," and "Net learning", courses taken online is the brief answer to, "What is an online degree?"

Is Online Learning Really All Online?

So, we've answered your question, "What is online learning," but you aren't sure if this means that the classes are really all online. Surely, you think, you must have to attend some courses in person. Well, sometimes yes, but usually no. Most online degrees are held entirely online, that means that every course that you will take is 100% on the computer, with you working from home, a Net Café, your school's computer lab - wherever you wish. However, some schools do require that you show up at a proctoring center for proctored exams. This means that the school may require you to take an examination on the material in a way where you have to go to a specific location, show identification to prove it is you, and then take the test. This is more likely to be required at a state-run, public university or college. Often, these proctoring centers are at the school's library or computer lab, but they can also be done at state libraries or universities that are near you.

Other schools may require you to attend live seminars. These can be single day seminars or weekend long events. These are most commonly required at the PhD level and occasionally at the master's degree level. It is rare to be required to attend such seminars (sometimes called residencies or colloquium) for associates or bachelor's degrees. It is not true that online degrees are a joke; in fact many online schools take their academics quite seriously, as their required seminars attest.

What Will I Do in an Online Class?

Still wondering what online learning is and what you'll be doing every day? In short, most online courses involve you purchasing a text book and then signing into an online course room. This course room will likely have various sections including a discussion area and assignment area. Each week you'll be given a reading assignment, usually readings from your text book or some online readings. Then, you will be given discussions to respond to and perhaps a written assignment. You will post your response to discussions in a discussion area, similar to discussion forums you have seen online. Then, your classmates will read your discussions and reply to you, and you will read your classmates postings and reply to them. Basically, you "discuss" the material for that week. Your teacher will likely also interact with you. In this way you learn from your text book, your instructor's input and your classmates.  You may also be required to post assignments (brief papers or perhaps answering multiple choice questions).

Will I Have Due Dates and Schedules?

So, still wondering, "What is online learning" as far as what it will mean in time spent? That's understandable. Many people love that you can get your degree online fast, but it does take some time and effort. You can expect to spend about 10-15 hours per week on each online course, including readings, discussions and assignments. Usually, your online courses will be asynchronous, meaning that you do not have to be online at any given time. But most courses will require that you be online a certain number of days per week.  How much time you spend will depend largely on how good you are with the computer and how fast you read, type and think. 

Have you already taken an online course?

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