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There are many advantages to online learning, and it is a great option when you are trying to balance work, family, and your education. Online courses offer you the freedom to complete coursework on your time schedule rather than having pre-set class meeting dates and times, you are able to work at your own pace (to some extent - online courses still have assignment and exam deadlines), and you can work from virtually anywhere you have a access to a computer and Internet connection. You will need to check the technical requirements for your courses to make sure your computer and Internet meet minimum requirements, especially when taking courses requiring specific software and online services such as online proctoring. In general, we do not recommend that you try to complete online courses using only a mobile device, and most software and online services such as online proctoring are not compatible with Chromebooks. Our technical support staff at the IT Service Desk will be happy to recommend minimum specifications for desktop or laptop computers if you would like to contact them.
If you are trying to decide if online learning is right for you, consider these main challenges:
- Computer and technical skills - Your courses will be completely online, so you will need to have a certain degree of technology proficiency with using a computer, web browser, and organizing electronic files. In addition, you will need to understand and have experience using the college's learning management system. For SCC, that is Canvas, and you can complete a Canvas Student Orientation course to make sure you are able to log in, modify your profile, access your courses, participate in discussions, submit assignment files, complete quizzes, and email your professors. You will also need to understand basic electronic communication etiquette for communicating with faculty and staff. For instance, use complete sentences, be respectful, address people appropriately, and do not use all caps and exclamation points (it is perceived as yelling to the receiver).
- Time Management - Since you will not be meeting regularly each week in a classroom, you will be responsible for carving out time each week to complete any reading and learning activities you need to in order to be ready for that week’s assignments. Those might consist of class discussions, assignments, quizzes, or some combination of those things. You may want to use a calendar to keep up with your course schedules and due dates. There is a calendar in Canvas, but you might also choose to use an electronic calendar on your mobile device or go "old school" with a paper planner. Make sure you also avoid common time-wasters during your designated study time by not engaging with social media, games, or just browsing the web.
- Motivation - This is also a tough one, because you need to be your own cheerleader and keep yourself going. You need to be self-motivated to be a successful online learner, and be able to stay engaged with your courses, meet your deadlines, and contact your professors when you have questions or need help. It is easy to let things slip when you don't have regularly schedule class meetings and classmates all around talking about the same things, so you have to set your study time, stick to it, and cheer yourself on. Find a friend who will help keep you motivated when you start feeling your confidence begin to drop.
- Technical Issues - Last, but not least, be prepared for technical issues. Make sure you have met the technical requirements with your computer and Internet, that you have a strong WiFi signal available, and that you have a plan for troubleshooting if something comes up. Do not wait until the last minute to complete coursework, because most professors will provide several days to complete work and expect it to be submitted on time.