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Is Distance Learning Right For You?

Preparing for a distance learning class requires self-analysis to determine if you have the discipline necessary to structure your own schedule and balance your time around the assignments and requirements of each course. The following questions are designed to help you decide if you have the basic skills to be successful.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will I be able to allocate as much or more time to an online course as I would a traditional classroom course?
  • Are my reading skills at an average college level or better?
  • Am I comfortable using reference books and dictionaries as needed to understand material?
  • Am I able to stay on task without supervision?
  • Am I good at handling multiple tasks?
  • Can I prioritize my workload?
  • Do I regularly consult the syllabus and assignment schedule to make sure I am prepared for the week ahead?
  • Do I learn best from reading text assignments or do I learn best from the spoken word and visual presentations?
  • Do I enjoy learning new computer skills?
  • Do I usually understand written instructions or do I prefer having the instructions explained to me?
  • Am I comfortable contacting the instructor via e-mail, voicemail, or in-person when I have questions?
  • Am I good at assessing my own progress?
  • Am I highly motivated? A self-starter? Or does classroom interaction, hearing what other students are doing and saying motivate me?

Technical Considerations

  • Can you run applications you need to use the computer? (This should include any specific applications unique to your course).
  • Are my reading skills at an average college level or better?
  • Am I comfortable using reference books and dictionaries as needed to understand material?
  • Do you know how to install software and plug-ins on your computer?
  • Are your keyboarding skills good enough to allow you to work efficiently? (An online class assumes you are already proficient).
  • Can you create, save and manage files on your computer?
  • Do you know how to cut and paste?
  • Do you have access to the Internet five times a week and up to two hours a day?
  • If you do not have your own computer (highly recommended for online courses), can you regularly get to campus to use the computer lab or arrange to use another computer for your class work?
  • Who is your ISP? Are you familiar with their help desk?
  • Are you comfortable using your Internet Browser and URL?s?
  • Do you know how to bookmark your favorite web sites?
  • Will you have an e-mail address you can use all semester?
  • Do you know how to send and receive e-mail messages?
  • Do you know how to attach a file to e-mail?
  • Do you know how to open an attachment to an e-mail you have received?
  • Do you know how to paste text to an e-mail message?
  • Do you have a modem or cable Internet connection? What is your speed?
  • Can your computer handle streaming video?

If you answered YES to all of the questions above, you have the appropriate skills to begin online courses. If not, talk with an educational planner if you are unsure about what to do.

If you have not completed the SJC DL Tutorial in the section above you can do that now. It will give you more detail on how DL courses work and if they will be a fit for you.

SJC Distance Learning Tutorial