What To Expect When You Study Online

eLearning Courses Are Primarily Asynchronous

In an eLearning course, students are mostly engaged with the course asynchronously, i.e., at different times and locations. In some courses there might be synchronous activities requiring everyone to participate at the same time. While the asynchronous nature of the eLearning course provides students the flexibility of self-paced study, it does not translate into complete freedom from a schedule. Although you won’t usually be required to attend the class in a specific geographic location and time, you do need to be a presence in the course room regularly and schedule specific hours for study, in a similar way you would in face to face classes. Taking a course totally online does not mean that it is ok to procrastinate or put off studying. In an online environment, you won’t have the benefit of instructors’ scheduled lectures in the classroom. It is therefore important to schedule ‘class time’ every week. It would be very difficult for most students learning in an online environment to successfully cram for exams and tasks online. An online course requires students to make a commitment and set up a schedule to:

  • Purchase all required materials in advance
  • Be familiar with the syllabus and the course structure completely and know how to contact the instructor
  • Log on to the course regularly, preferable everyday (at least every two to three days)
  • Read the instructions for each learning task thoroughly and carefully
  • Note all due dates, including those for the drafts and discussions and plan your work accordingly (Note whether the due time is your local time, or the instructor’s local time, or the server’s time)
  • Read and reflect on the materials before participating in the course activities such as posting responses and contributing to the online discussions. Keep in mind that you might need more time reading online.
  • Plan to perform online tasks and submit your assignment at least several hours before the due time to allow the internet processing time, avoid potential problems due to the heavy internet traffic, and take into account of possible technology fails.
  • Schedule any required synchronous sessions around your other commitments

Also remember:

  • Do not wait until the last minute to email instructors for questions and assistance.
  • Do not wait until the last minute to engage with the materials, instructors, and peers. Your active participation is not only the key to your own learning, but could also have great impact on the learning of your peers!