the Online Classroom
Today the Internet is helping to increase the availability and
popularity of distance learning programs. There are more than 2 million
students enrolled in online programs and over 80% of all colleges offer
some form of distance learning. More importantly, the USDLA cites that
research studies have shown distance learning programs to be equally as
effective as traditional learning, and that students’ attitudes about
their online experiences are typically positive.
While statistics about the popularity, growth, and effectiveness are
important aspects to consider in your decision, you may also be curious
about the specifics of the online classroom experience. In fact, online
degree programs follow much the same routines as traditional learning, but
with a few creative alterations. You will still have lectures (just not in
person), assignments (but you won’t hand them in to your instructor), and
exams (just without the pencil and paper).
Typically class begins at a certain time, but you won’t have to be there.
You’ll be able to communicate with your instructor by e-mail, chat rooms,
bulletin boards, and instant messenger. Your classroom will reside in a
special software program that utilizes text, chat, and bulletin boards, as
well as streaming audio or recorded lectures. You may study in a virtual
workgroup with other students and may also work, individually, on
interactive puzzles and quizzes. This contact with other students and the
instructor, which occurs in most online classrooms, is useful and
oftentimes essential to your education.
Some online programs even encourage faculty to hold weekly real-time
office hours and to monitor class and team bulletin board discussions.
Most instructors will respond to e-mail on a regular basis (within 24 to
48 hours) and can offer either synchronous (live) or asynchronous
(non-live) class sessions. Transcripts and notes from these lectures are
archived for your convenience. You will always be able to access previous
discussions, live or not. Assignments can be completed using these
archives and, when returned to you, your instructor may even attach an
audio clip to your assignment to let you hear his/her comments. To create
and maintain this high-tech environment, instructors team up with web
designers ad instructional designers to put together their courses. The
result is, usually, an interactive and highly effective learning