Distance Learning Readiness Resources
Are Online Courses a Good Fit for Your Academic Needs and Preferences?
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.
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 highly 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 best 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 college coursework 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 will probably 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 might want to carefully consider whether online learning is the best fit for you.
Below are some resources to help you gauge your readiness for the distance learning environment and to determine whether distance learning is the best fit for your learning preferences.
Not all DL courses have the same technological requirements. Liberal arts and humanities courses may only require a high speed internet connection, while more technical courses may require audio/visual equipment and specialized computer hardware and software. Carefully check the technological requirements of any DL course in which you are considering enrolling. View a list of common technology requirements and skills for distance learners.
Students can assess their computer skills and competency with the following online self-tests:
Check Your Readiness and "Fit" for Online Coursework
Online courses require that students are more independent than in on-campus classes. Without easy access to many on-campus academic support resources, DL students must be very secure in their pre-requisite course knowledge so that they can learn independently and effectively.
Students can check their readiness for DL coursework as well as determine whether DL coursework is a good fit for their learning preferences 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.
- University of Georgia Student Online Readiness Tool (SORT): http://goml.readi.info/
- Start here (and if you only have time to take one assessment, take this one)! This extremely thorough assessment examines life factors, personal attributes, learning styles, reading rate and recall, technical competency, technical knowledge, and typing speed and accuracy to help determine whether a student is well suited to the online learning environment. The assessment is free but does require students to supply an email address to which results will be sent. To “sign in”, simply use one of the generic login usernames and passwords provided near the top of the screen, then fill in the required personal information.
- Sierra College Online Student Readiness Quiz: http://lrc.sierra.cc.ca.us/dl/survey/OL-student-assess.html
- This is a 20 question interactive assessment that checks a student’s technological readiness (including computer hardware and software skills/knowledge), reading ability, learning style preferences, motivation/study habits, and time management skills.
- Georgia Perimeter College DL Readiness Quiz: http://www.gpc.edu/online/content/online-readiness-survey%20/
- This quick assessment examines students’ perceptions about DL coursework, study skills and habits, learning needs, and learning preferences. It does not check technological readiness.
- St. Petersburg College eCampus Readiness Quiz: http://www.spcollege.edu/ecampus/cyberadvisor/quiz.htm
- This is a quick 10-question assessment of students’ technological and academic readiness for DL coursework