What to Expect With Your Distance Education Course

Distance education classes are a great way for you to continue your education if your busy work or personal life makes it difficult for you to attend classes on campus. Distance education classes require more time and responsibility on your part than on campus courses.

You should dedicate 8-12 hours a week to your course

Distance education courses typically have more activities, assignments, and readings than face-to-face courses. To be successful in a distance course, you need to be able to set aside a minimum of 8-12 hours per week to devote solely to completing your course work (your courses may require more or less time than this). If you do not have approximately 10 hours a week to devote to your course, you may want to wait before taking a distance education course.

You should have a computer and Internet access at home

A computer and Internet access are required if you are taking an online course, and they are highly recommended for most teleclasses. It is important that you are able to use the computer to complete your work uninterrupted. If this is not possible at home, you may wish to consider using a computer at work, the library, or at a friend's house.

You should be able to come to campus to take an exam or lab if given the dates and times in advance

Some courses require you to come to campus to take exams or participate in labs. If you cannot make it to campus during the semester, you may want to contact the Western Institute or the instructors of the courses you are interested in to find out if the course requires any on-campus meetings.

You should be self-motivated and willing to take responsibility for your own learning

Taking a distance course means that you will be completing most of the work on your own. You will not have regular meetings with the instructor or classmates to remind you of when assignments are due. You must be able to self-motivated to complete your work on time and to the best of your ability if you want to be successful. Just as in a face-to-face course, your success will be determined by the amount of effort you put forth. Remember, technology is not perfect, so it is always best to be prepared for anything by keeping on schedule and keeping backups of important work.

You should be self-disciplined and good at budgeting your time in order to complete assignments before their due dates

Many face-to-face courses have small assignments lasting a couple of days. On the contrary, most distance courses have assignments that may last anywhere from a week to several weeks. It is important that you create a work plan for yourself in order to complete your assignments on time. You cannot wait until the day before an assignment is due to begin work. If you procrastinate, you will quickly find yourself behind in the course and becoming frustrated. If you need help developing good study skills or need tutoring support, the Center for Academic Support would be happy to help you.

You should be confident in your writing and typing skills

Distance courses, especially online courses, typically require a substantial amount of writing and typing. Most Missouri Western instructors use Microsoft Word or another compatible word processing program, so you need to be able to use one to complete assignments.

There will be a lot of reading involved

Distance courses typically require much more reading than face-to-face courses. Because you do not meet face-to-face with the instructor, most of your learning will come from reading and completing activities on your own.

You will be able to work at your own pace

While a distance course is not an independent study course, you will be required to work on your own and at your own pace. This means that you will need to plan your time carefully in order to stay on top of your assignments and do well in the course. It is usually best to set aside a specific study time each day. If you prefer to work in the early morning or late at night, you can as long as you plan your time wisely in order to complete your work. If you need to work from home due to other work or personal commitments that keep you from attending classes on campus, distance education may be perfect for you.

Be aware that distance courses usually require more time and work on your part than traditional face-to-face courses

A common misconception is that distance education courses are easier or are considered independent study courses. Neither of these is true. Often times distance courses are more difficult and require more of your time than face-to-face courses. They are also not independent study courses because there are set deadlines and participation requirements that you must keep up with throughout the course.

You will be able to engage in discussions with the instructor and other classmates

Distance courses rely heavily on communication between the instructors and students. Many online courses require you to post comments and answer questions on a discussion board. Many students and instructors have even said that there is more discussion in distance courses than in face-to-face courses. If this is important to you, you may wish to contact the instructor to find out about the amount of discussion in the distance course.

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