Now I cannot say that online learning is particularly easy, it definitely has had some challenges. For me, however, it is very beneficial. I am able to work at my own pace, on my own time and still have time to work during the days. This is a luxury that most classroom students are not awarded. Whatever it may be that requires you to need to have a flexible schedule, the online learning aspect definitely accommodates it. Not having to move away from family and friends is another huge advantage, all you need is an internet source and you can do your school work anywhere! It is easier as well in some ways to learn online on a daily basis – if you need a break, you take it, if you feel like doing your work in pajamas then by all means go for it. You are not going to miss anything by going at your own pace. Another lesser considered benefit to online learning which I had not really considered until I was asked to write about this was how much my skills in the technology world as a whole have developed. Now I am not saying I was awful with computers to begin with but I can now say that I type faster, I am better at conducting my searches for research articles and I am a multitasking wiz! These are all things to look forward to upon starting an online course.
The challenges to the online learning world are that you have to have a lot of self discipline to sit down every day and do what needs to get done. This is crucial to not falling behind. It is also difficult at times when you feel a lack of peer support because you only know your classmates in an online form. Fortunately this gets completely remedied in lab sessions. I feel like my classmates and I now have a strong bond and I could call on any one of them for help and they could do the same to me. Unfortunately for us we took too long to get to know each other! For incoming students I would advise you talk to everyone at orientation. Exchange phone numbers, look at family photos, and talk about your lives. Really make an effort to get to know each other because they will be the ultimate source of support. This goes the same for the instructors. I cannot tell you how good it feels to talk to them, listen to the advice they have to give and now I feel comfortable going to any one of them for extra help if I needed to. I do not recommend anyone follows my lead and waits until the lab to get to this point. They are all fantastic and will help with absolutely anything from day one!
As with everything there are benefits and challenges to taking a course online. For me personally the benefits of not having to relocate, stop working, and be flexible with my time far outweighed any challenges there were. Any bumps in the road just help you to learn how to handle it better next time and take my advice, use all the resources available to you! It will make all the difference.