You need to have a basic knowledge of computer and Internet skills in order to be successful in an online course. Here are some of the highlights:
- Knowledge of terminology, such as browser, IMHO, application.
- Understanding of basic computer hardware and software; ability to perform computer operations, such as:
- Using a keyboard and mouse
- Managing files and folders: save, name, copy, move, backup, rename, delete, check properties
- Software installation, security, and virus protection
- Using software applications, such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, email clients
- Knowledge of copying and pasting, spell-checking, saving files in different formats
- Sending and downloading attachments
- Internet skills (connecting, accessing, using browsers) and the ability to perform online research using various search engines and library databases.
- Ability to use online communication tools, such as email (create, send, receive, reply, print, send/receive attachments), discussion boards (read, search, post, reply, follow threads), chats, and messengers.
- Strong reading and writing skills. You need to have strong reading skills and be able to communicate effectively through writing. Most of the material in the online environment will come from your textbooks and written lectures, therefore strong reading and critical thinking skills are very important for success in an online course. Online students communicate through such text-based tools, as emails, discussion forums, chats, and instant messaging. You need to feel comfortable expressing yourself in writing.
- Self-motivated and independent learner. While online courses can offer more flexibility in scheduling, they require more self-discipline and independence than on-campus courses. Some students can find this uncomfortable and not suitable for their learning style. They may miss the more typical face-to-face interaction with an instructor and peers, which helps to keep them on track. In the online environment, you have to be able to start and to work on tasks on your own, without someone keeping you focused, and you have to be self-disciplined in order to follow the class schedule and meet deadlines.
- Time commitment – Online classes take as much time as regular on-campus classes. You need to set aside sufficient time for study. Plan to spend at least as much time working on the assignments and studying as you would with a traditional course. Note that some students report spending even more time on online classes than for traditional ones. The time that you need to devote to a 3-credit course will be approximately 12 hours a week.
- Time management: log-in frequently and develop study schedules. Even though you may not have to “be” in class on some specific day and time, you still have to follow the course schedule provided by your instructor. Remember that online classes are not independent study courses; you are still required to “show up” and participate actively.
- Since online courses are both real-time and asynchronous, they will continue developing and changing even if you are not online. You need to be online frequently enough and log in at least three to four times per week in order to keep up with the content flow, complete assignments, follow discussions, and communicate with your classmates and instructor. Some courses may even require you to log in every day.
- Never wait until the last minute to complete your assignments. You may have a technical problem or run out of time which will cause frustration. One of the major reasons for failing online classes is procrastination since it is very easy to fall behind in the online environment. Make sure to set aside specific time on a regular basis to participate in your course. Schedule specific times to log in and to study.
- Active learner – Online students must be active learners, self-starters who are not shy or afraid to ask questions when they do not understand. Remember that you, not the instructor, must be in control of your learning process.
- Although you and your instructor will interact in person (online) on a regular basis, you need to “speak up” right away if you have problems and be as explicit as possible; otherwise. there is no way others will know that something is wrong.
- Remember that your instructor is not the only source of information. Most of the time you will be able to post your question in the discussion forum and your classmates will help you as well.
- If you have technical difficulty, problems understanding course content, or difficulty meeting the deadline, seek help right away, and contact your instructor to make arrangements for additional support and help.
Technology Requirements & Readiness Assessment
Since our Instruction is provided via distance, online, real-time synchronous and asynchronous learning, technology and self-regulation skills are very important.
These are hybrid and online programs where instruction is provided synchronously and asynchronously by a professor who is present online via video conferencing tools with the students in possibly remote locations during the fall and spring semesters. The program may include materials that are archived or recorded that are shared asynchronously with students attending on their individual schedules.
All students must have a computer capable of running the minimum required software and a reliable Internet service provider. The Bridges Graduate School will assist you in accessing the online platform used to support online classroom instruction.
Our online platform is Google Classroom, and we make extensive use of Google applications including Google Apps for Educators. The online platform is supplemented with additional applications and resources as technology continues to rapidly change. All students are required to have an online meeting with the Director of Admissions to assess their appropriate level of skill and support.
The Director of Admissions will contact you to schedule this meeting if it was not done during your pre-application meeting.