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Distance Learning Readiness

Are Online Courses a Good Fit for Your Academic Needs and Learning Style?

Turn in your homework with the click of a button at 11:59pm. Take your final exam from your living room couch while munching on steaming hot pizza. Participate in class discussions from your lounge chair on the beach…and still take your education seriously.

 

Sounds pretty appealing, doesn’t it?

 

Although the promise of attending class from anywhere at nearly any time can be quite alluring, the reality is that distance learning and online coursework are not a good match for every student. Distance learning is most effective for students who are independent and self-motivated learners and who require little or no face-to-face interaction with their professor and peers in order to understand and appreciate course material.

 

If you are an experienced student and learn well on your own (by reading course material, participating in online discussion boards, and synthesizing material from multiple sources), you might be a good candidate for distance learning. If you are an independent learner with a complicated work or family schedule, online courses could be an excellent way to complete your educational goals while meeting your other obligations.

 

If you are a new student who has not yet experienced the rigors of college coursework or the excitement of participating in spirited class discussions with faculty and peers, you may benefit more from attending courses on campus. If your favorite part of class is engaging in discussions, presentations, and projects or if you prefer group study sessions with your classmates to prepare for assignments and exams, you will want to carefully consider whether online learning is the best fit for you.

 

Keep in mind that online courses require significant effort! It is a myth that they are easier or require less time that traditional courses.

 

Below are some resources to help you gauge your readiness for distance learning and to determine whether distance learning is the best fit for your learning style.

 

Technology Requirements

Not all distance learning courses have the same technology requirements. Some courses may only require a high speed internet connection, while other courses may require a webcam/microphone. Some courses may also require you to install software. If you don’t have access to a reliable internet connection and a webcam, you may want to check with the course instructor before registration. Take a look at the following webpages for technology requirements and skills for distance learners at UNF.

  • Technology for Students - Information Technology Services’ (ITS) home page for student technology.
  • Free Software for UNF Students – UNF provides students with access to a number of free software applications.
  • UNF Technology Toolkit – Information for students new to UNF, such as email, myWings, UNF Virtual Lab, and Canvas.
  • UNF Helpdesk – The ITS Helpdesk is UNF’s centralized point of contact for all supported products and services.
 

Check Your Readiness and "Fit" for Online Coursework

How can you tell if distance learning is right for you? Students can check their readiness for distance learning to determine whether it is a is a good fit for their learning style with the following self-assessments. We recommend that students take several different assessments when deciding whether to enroll in online courses since each assessment examines student readiness in a slightly different way.

  • The University of North Carolina Online Learning Readiness Questionnaire: http://www.unc.edu/tlim/ser/ 
    •  This is a 30 question assessment that checks a student’s motivation, learning strategies and technological readiness for online learning. Post-survey feedback provides additional information on what to expect in an online course.
     
  • Austin Community College Technical Skills Checklist: http://dl.austincc.edu/students/techcheck.php 
    • Most students who have experience browsing the Internet already have many of the technical skills necessary to succeed in an online course. This checklist can help you make sure.