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Friday, July 25, 2014

eLearning Coursework – What you Can and Cannot Expect

My guest blogger today is Eileen Archer. Please be sure to check out her unique guest post. Guest posts are always welcome, please contact me.
 

There is no going back – eLearning is here to stay, and the industry continues to grow at an exponential rate.  Online coursework from middle school forward (not to mention the abundance of computer-driven instruction for home-schooled elementary students) is now available to anyone with Internet access and the money to pay.  And at the post-secondary level, there are Pell Grants and student loans to cover tuition and fees.  
 
At first glance, the prospect of online learning is certainly attractive.  Who wouldn’t want the flexibility to “attend” class on his/her own time schedule?  Who wouldn’t like to be “in class” in pajamas, with a pot of coffee and snacks within reach?  It sounds delightful and relaxing!  Online learning is not necessarily delightful and certainly not relaxing, as anyone who takes this route will tell you.  There are a number of pitfalls for which you must be prepared. 

First and foremost, there are, in this industry, excellent, mediocre, and absolutely fraudulent institutions.  There is money to be made, and organizations driven only by profit tend to be the worst candidates for your dollar.  Before enrolling in any eLearning course or program, do your research.  Fortunately, simple web searches will probably tell you much of what you need to know, and be certain to check the accreditation of any institution who will be receiving your tuition!

There are also plenty of misconceptions about online learning, so here is a listing of what you can and cannot expect.  Study it carefully before you decide that pajamas and coffee are preferable to going to class.


What You Can Expect
1.       You can expect the coursework to be rigorous, if the institution is worthwhile.  Curriculum is not watered down – if anything it is more comprehensive.
2.       You can expect assignments that will be just as tough, if not more, than those for in-class learning.
3.       You can expect that the coursework will not dignify a variety of learning styles, so be certain that you have the wherewithal to master content that is presented in a decidedly left-brained mode.
4.       You can expect deadlines, just as you would have in a regular on-campus course.  Extensions are tough to get, so be prepared to complete papers and exams within the time frames given.
5.       Direct communication with an instructor is generally possible, and blackboards and chat rooms will allow discussion with fellow classmates.  Lectures are often skyped, and you may be able to ask questions and participate in discussions, if you are able to “attend” at a specific time.

What You Cannot Expect
1.       Do not expect that you will be able to procrastinate – you must follow the timeline, or you will never complete the course(s).
2.        Do not expect unlimited time for exams.  In many instances, there will be a designated time limit, in an attempt to prevent cheating.
3.       Do not expect a refund if you do not complete a course – it will never happen.  And if you have taken out loans for your coursework, you have the additional pain of paying back that loan with nothing to show for it!
4.       Do not expect to do well if you are not highly motivated and achievement-oriented.  People who do well in an eLearning environment are well-organized, committed, and somewhat “driven.”

A few final words:  Choose your eLearning program wisely; schedule your learning and assignment activities as if you were actually attending a physical class; and, above all, do not overload yourself with courses that you cannot finish.  Start small and add as you are comfortable.

Author Bio:  
Eileen Archer is currently a resident blogger and a chief writer at EssayPlanet.org and has researched and written on a number of topics affecting secondary and university students. After obtaining a Masters in English language she decided to dedicate her time to creative writing as well as providing assistance to students. 

Many thanks to Eileen Archer. 
Enjoy your reading!


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