Is Distance Learning Right for You?


1. Why are you considering taking a distance learning class?

Your answer suggests that you will be motivated to complete your online course(s). This makes you a good candidate for online learning!
Your answer indicates that you may be a good candidate for taking an online course. Let's make sure that online learning is the best alternative for you. Answer the rest of this questionnaire carefully.
Your answer indicates that you are taking an online course for the wrong reason. Did you know that the amount of work you do in an online course is the equivalent of that in a face-to-face course? Students who think online courses are easier than traditional courses are usually surprised, and many do not complete the course.

Time Management and Study Habits 

2. Which of the following statements is most true about your time management skills?

Wonderful! This is a great skill to have when taking an online course.
Good. It is very important to manage your time well when taking an online course. You must try to be punctual in all of your assignments and adhere to submission deadlines, since professors often remove the assignments from the course after the deadlines have passed.
This could be a very serious problem in an online course. Check with the professors of the courses you plan to take to see what their policies are for late assignments. Also, review the Time Management tutorial within the Student Orientation Course for hints on how to become better organized as a student.

3. How are your study habits?

Great! This shows that you manage your time well. That is an excellent quality for a student taking an online class.
Just remember that there may not be a professor reminding you about your homework assignments and/or test dates other than through an online calendar or syllabus that YOU must check. Be sure to review the Time Management Tips section of this tutorial to learn how you can manage your study time in such a way that you can succeed in your online class.
Knowing how to manage your time AND being responsible with your assignments and test dates are two essential qualities of online learners. These are skills that you can develop. It is good that you recognize this characteristic about yourself. Review the Time Management section of this tutorial to learn how you can be a successful online student.

Essential Skills

4. How well do you read and follow instructions?

Wonderful! Since the instructions for using the technology for online learning as well as the instructions for all assignments within the online courses you take at VPCC will be written, it is crucial that you know how to follow written instructions.
It is good that you usually understand directions on your own. You need to be aware that in an online course, faculty may take a day or so to get back to you with the answers to your questions. You might consider beginning each assignment early to compensate for this.
Be careful here. Most (if not all) of the instructions in online courses are in written format. If you feel frustrated with trying to understand written instructions, you might want to consider a course that is not completely online.

5. Do you enjoy reading?

Good! If you enjoy reading, you are probably a good reader. This will make your online course experience enjoyable.
OK. Usually, most of the content of the online course is in written format, and therefore requires more reading than classroom-based courses where teachers stand and lecture to the class. You might want to consider using the Bulletin Board to ask classmates for help in understanding parts of the class with which you have problems.
If you do not like to read and find textbooks confusing, online learning will be a struggle for you. Unless you have a true need to learn in non-traditional environments, you should reconsider taking an online course.

Learning Style

 6. Do you consider yourself to be an independent learner?

Great! This indicates that you learn well from reading, which will make online learning easier for you than for students who learn best through hearing lectures.
It's good that you are an independent learner. Sometime faculty will conduct review of the material in chat sessions with the students. You might consider checking with the professors of your online courses to see if they plan to do this. If not, some profs allow their online learners to visit their traditional classes to hear lectures that cover more complicated topics. Check with your professors about their policies.
Your answer indicates that you would be more comfortable in a traditional classroom than in an online class. Online courses can be designed so that students can learn at their own pace. Therefore, professors might not conduct many review lectures in online courses since students will be at different places within the curriculum at any given time.

7. Do you seek help when you need it?

Good. If you are not afraid to ask questions, you will be able to progress smoothly through your online couses.
OK. But don't be shy about asking questions. You can ask your classmates through the bulletin board, or your teacher through e-mail.
Hopefully, you can overcome this discomfort if you decide to take an online course. Asking questions is often the only way you can progress through your assignments and lectures online.

Computer Skills

8. How good are your computer skills?

Good answer! This means you will be able to concentrate on learning the lessons within your course instead of worrying about how to use the technology to access the material. Sounds like you are a good candidate for this type of course.
OK. The good news is that by taking an online course, your computer / Internet skills will get better quickly. You can use the QuickSteps in the Student Orientation program to learn the computer skills you will need for your online course.
You should consider taking a basic computer and Internet skills workshop or class at before you begin any online class. It would be very frustrating to have to learn the technology involved in an taking an online course at the same time that you are trying to learn the content.

9. How easy is it for you to use new computer skills?

Good. This indicates that you should be able to handle the technology in most online courses.
As long as you can learn the computer and Internet skills you need to take your online courses with a minimum of frustration, you should be OK in online learning. However, your answer indicates that you might be more comfortable in a traditional classroom setting. Unless you have a specific need for non-traditional classes, consider taking a campus-based class.
Oops! You should really reconsider taking an online course if you are uncomfortable with computer technology. It can be frustrating having to deal with unfamiliar technology while trying to learn a subject, and students who are uncomfortable with computer technology frequently drop out of online classes.

10. How much do you use computers?

Great! Then you should have no trouble with the technology of the online courses here at VPCC. You will be free to concentrate entirely on the content!
OK. At the VPCC Distance Learning Web site, you will find step-by-step instructions on how to download/install the programs you might need for some of your classes.
Then you should consider taking a basic computer and Internet skills workshop or class at VPCC before you begin an online class. It could be frustrating for you to have to focus on the technology instead of on the content of what you are trying to learn.

11. What is your experience with the World Wide Web?

Great! These are skills that will serve you well in your online courses.
That's a good start. Your answer indicates that you have some basic Web experience. As you go through your online course, you will learn to use the Internet for more academic purposes.
Since your online course is presented over the Web, this might be a problem for you. You might consider taking a workshop to learn how to use the World Wide Web before your online class begins.

12. What is your experience using e-mail?

Good! A lot of the assignments in online courses are submitted as attachments, so it is good that you already have that skill.
That is a start! Be sure to visit the lesson pages in the Student Orientation Course at VPCC\'s Distance Learning Web site. There you can how to attach documents and to open attachments.
This could be a problem. Most of your written assignments in an online course are submitted through drop-box, e-mail, and bulletin board attachments. If you are not familiar with even the very basics of e-mail, you may have problems in an online environment. Visit the lesson pages in the Student Orientation Course at VPCC\'s Distance Learning Web site to learn go to send and open e-mail within an online course. You might also want to review how to attach documents to assignments and to bulletin board entries.

Access to Technology

13. Do you have access to headphones, webcam, laptop or other computing device that allows you to install software?

The variety of Distance Learning courses at VPCC might require one or more of these technologies. It is good that you have all three.
Then you should be sure to check the Distance Learning Web site at VPCC to learn what the technology requirements for the course you plan to take.

14. Which answer best describes your computer access at the present time?

Good. This means that you will be able to do your work at home at times that are convenient to you.
OK. If you do not have a computer at your home, be sure to manage your study time well -- especially at the end of the semester and when major projects are due. If you need to be on acomputer after your access facility is closed to finish your work on time, you may become "stressed out". Perhaps you can arrange for backup access for crunch times.
If you do not have access to a computer, check to see which of the courses at VPCC require online access. We recommend you do not take a fully online course if you do not have easy access to the technology. If the courses you need do have require that you have easy and convenient access to a computer, ask where students can have such access at your campus. Learn the hours of operation and plan your study time around their schedule, if possible.