Online courses provide you with structure and pacing of an in-class course but with more flexibility module to module as to when you read, study and work on assignments or prepare for exams. Some learners find that having to attend a regular in-class session inconvenient and that the schedule doesn’t fit with their work, personal or family commitments. Some learners enjoy the type of social interaction that can happen in an online group as it’s similar to how people interact on popular social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter.
While some learners prefer an in-person and face-to-face interactions, other prefer online interaction. Some even feel that they get more of a connection with the instructor and their peers online than they can in a classroom. In a classroom, you may not actually get a chance to speak with everyone in the course but in an online course you have more of an opportunity to interact with virtually everyone in the class at some point or another.
To get the most of out of your online course, it’s good to develop a habit of reading through and studying the course materials during the specified period for that module. If your instructor has scheduled webinars, it would be ideal to do this pre-reading in advance of the webinar so that you can ask questions and clarify concepts while you’re attending the webinar. If the interactive elements of your course include module discussion boards, it’s a good practice to contribute to the discussion board during the same week/period that the particular subject is being studied. If you only contribute afterwards, you may not benefit from the interaction with other learners because most will have moved on to the following modules of content.
An active learning experience is more effective than a passive learning experience so do your best to attend the webinars, engage on the discussion boards and participate in other online activities. The people in your class likely have similar career and/or personal interests as you do. Often some of the most valuable learning in a course can come from what you learn from interacting with the other participants. Likewise, your personal and career experiences and insights may be very interesting and useful to other participants.