You don’t need to have any experience with computers to take an online course.
While you don’t have to be a computer expert to take an online course, you will need to have a basic knowledge of computers. If you are considering taking a course online, first ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you comfortable using a computer on a daily basis?
- Do you have regular, reliable access to a computer? How about to an alternate computer should something happen to your primary?
- Do you have good written communication skills?
- Do you know how to open your UA Little Rock email? Can you compose an email message and upload/download attachments?
- How are your word processing skills? Do you know how to format a document including font sizing, line spacing, and adding footnotes, headers and footers? Do you know how to cut, copy and paste text within a single file and from one document to another?
- How much do you know about file formats and saving files in different formats?
- Do you know how to install and uninstall software on your computer?
- Do you know how to find out which operating system you are using? Which Internet browser?
- Do you know how to use the Internet? Do you know how to find online resources appropriate for research purposes?
- Are you comfortable troubleshooting your computer when errors arise?
The good news is most of these skills can easily be learned online or on campus through the IT Services Student Computer Lab located on the first floor of the Ottenheimer Library in room LIB 104. Also see the additional resources section at the end of this article for a list of helpful websites.
Online courses are easier (or harder) than traditional courses.
The truth is online courses are really no different than courses held on campus. The only difference is the environment in which the course material is delivered. Once you understand how to navigate the Blackboard environment, the rest is just a matter of time management. If you are considering taking an online course for the first time, it might be helpful to talk with someone that has already taken an online class.
For more information about navigating UA Little Rock’s Blackboard system, please visit the tutorials section.
It’s less time intensive than a traditional course.
A lot of students have the misconception that because a course is online, they can complete their online assignments whenever they have some free time. Unfortunately, this approach leaves a lot of students struggling at the last minute to get assignments completed. Online courses are the same as traditional courses in that they require time spent “outside of class” to get everything done.
The best way to approach on online course is to schedule time like you would a face-to-face course. If you schedule several hours throughout the week dedicated to completing assignments for your online courses, you’ll find that the work is done in a timely manner without becoming overwhelming.
Online courses are just online textbooks.
Online courses are more than just text. There are a variety of tools in Blackboard that encourage peer-to-peer and student/teacher interactions including discussion boards, journals, blogs and wikis. Also, a lot of instructors use audio, video and web conferencing tools to engage and communicate with students.
It’s okay to be casual or informal in an online course.
Whether you are attending a class on campus or online, you must remember that you are communicating in an academic setting and should conduct yourself in a professional manner. This applies to all online correspondences related to your course from papers to emails and discussion postings.
It is inappropriate to communicate in your online course the same way you may communicate other places online. Avoid the use of text speak, poor grammar and/or spelling, and foul language. Remember: you are preparing for your future career. Professional and grammatically correct communication will serve you well in any profession you choose. Start practicing!