I have been teaching online classes full time for more than six years now. I taught a lot of different courses, with various Institutions, most of them around the topic of Intercultural studies. I have also developed a handful of courses and got to teach them multiple times. Teaching a course you developed yourself is a unique experience. Seeing how students respond to the content, the workload and overall structure of the class is a unique experience.

When you teach online, you can teach all year long, and that is what I have done for the past seven years. The only break I have is three weeks in July. Every day, every weekend, every month, eleven months out of the year. I had thousands of students in my classes from around the world. Every new class I teach brings with it new perspectives and insights. I want to share with you some of these insights and some things I have learned from teaching online. These thoughts are in no order, just the one that came to mind during a very long flight (what else is there to do during long flights):

 I am a firm believer that everyone should consider taking online classes but my experience for the past few years showed me that some students don’t have what it takes to succeed in an online environment. 

I had a phone conversation a while back with a very concerned student. They called me before the class even started. It was only a few minutes after I sent my preliminary announcement to the class letting them know important things about the course. The class was about to begin, and I usually send out an email explaining my expectations for the course. This student was concerned because they didn’t understand anything in my announcement, it was as if I wrote it in a foreign language. I tried to explain, to the best of my ability everything I said in that announcement, but the student stopped me and said: “I don’t even know what copy/paste means”. At that point, I said: “well, then you should not worry about plagiarism”. They didn’t laugh, which made me understand our predicament even more. I instructed the student to consider dropping the class and taking an orientation course before jumping in a live course.
Age is irrelevant in online learning and not a deciding factor. I had a student who was 80 years old (I only know this because they disclosed it) and he was one of my most active online students. If age is irrelevant, what are some other factors you might ask? Well, thank you for asking, I will cover some very basic but essential steps for success in online learning.

 Just because you can take an online course, doesn’t mean you should. 

Let me help you figure out if online learning is for you. Answer these simple questions for yourself:

Do you have one hour a day (minimum) to dedicate to your education?
If not, you should be ashamed of yourself. In all seriousness, imagine for a second who you could become if you invest one hour (or two) every day to learn something new. At Moody Distance Learning we use ReadyForOnline to develop courses. This tool allows the course creator to make sure every course has the same learning requirements every week. You can expect to invest anywhere between 6-8 hours of work per week for a class. That is why making sure you set time aside for your learning and progress is essential and it is my first question to you. How important is learning for you? How much do you invest in it daily, weekly or monthly?

 

Do you own and operate a personal computer? Or at least a tablet?
Do you know what copy/paste means? This is serious, a good number of online students disclose that they don’t have either access to the internet and some to a personal computer. Go figure. Sitting on the admissions committee every week and I see the application files coming in every week. I am always surprised to see students applying for online learning disclosing they don’t know how to operate a computer. I don’t want anyone to feel put down by this point here but not being able to operate a computer in an online class is like being a fisherman who is allergic to fish.

 

Are you a self-starter, self-motivator, and self-supporter?
Are you able to pick yourself up? If not, maybe you should take an online class on becoming a self-starter. Like in my image here, online learning gives you all the right tools to learn, develop and improve your skills. You have to do the griding. That is why I love online students and online learners, they know what they have to do and they are go-getters.

 

Are you interested to become a life-long learner?
Different than the traditional classroom, in an online class you are the student and sometimes the professor, you teach yourself how to learn and practice the skill over and over again. I would hire people who completed their studying online in a heartbeat. Imagine someone who has developed the skill of learning on their own working in a company or working for you. You tell them the scope of the project and they will already get going and find their own resources to get it done. No need to hold their hand or constantly provide for them. Imagine someone hungry for knowledge. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. An online learner spent 21 days times one hundred times practicing the skill of learning. Enough said.

With all this in mind, you should consider taking at least one online class. If you do, please feel free to come and tell me what you think about that experience in the comment section below.

Alin Vrancila

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