I'm online at the University of Illinois at Chicago, taking a noncredit course. What does that mean? For the busy professional who wants to gain skills, but not necessarily a degree this is a valid way to further your education. For the minimal price of $595 I am taking a six week course in mastering grant writing. Compare the cost of this course to University of Phoenix or Kaplan University. Most of their courses are two thousand or more. Also, an online course offered by an accredited university with a physical campus is less likely to be sketchy than the purely online schools. That is not to say you can't get a good education from some of the more virtual schools. It's just that you need to be aware, not all employers recognize schooling from a non-accredited school. If all you want is the information, by all means, take it where you can get it. IF you need a certificate, check out all the proper ramifications.
Compare also the time investment of a six week course as opposed to a semester long investment. Taking an online course requires self discipline. The syllabus said to expect to spend 4 to 15 hours a week on line. My first day I spent about an hour and a half, although much of that was learning the to use the software application. I am hoping that time will go down as I get more snap at their system. The school also recommended that students log on, on a daily basis. Daily! When I attended the University of Hawai'i, back in the 1980's our classes usually met either two or three times a week. Nothing short of a foreign language class met five times a week. Nothing at all met daily!
The University of Illinois currently uses a software application called "Blackboard" for its online classes. Using this tool you can enter discussions with other students and the professor by posting replies. Its sort of like an old fashioned "party line" back when private telephones were less common. Any one can post on the black board at any time. I learned the hard way though, you can't delete a comment once its been posted. You can't un-send an email either. So I recommend you do all your work in a word processing program first, proof read it, and then cut and paste it into cyberspace.
What is to stop a person from hiring someone else to do
their work? Probably nothing for a non credit course. Except why pay the money if you don't want to
learn something? A better approach is to take advantage of everything
available. Click on every link, at least to see what they do, read all the
material. Read it more than once to make
sure you really get it. Keep a link open
to dictionary.com while you're working in case you come across words you never
heard of before. The "Blackboard" gives
you cyberspace to store your papers and notes indefinitely, so if you continue
taking courses at the
University you can access your stuff without worrying about your personal system crashing.
If you have a chance to read ahead, do so. Even if it doesn't totally make sense to you at the time it will give you a vague overview of what's coming up. That way, by the time the teacher explains it, you'll be hearing it for the second time. If there is a calendar of events look it over as soon as possible and plan for the due dates. There isn't any merit in waiting until the last minute to do assignments. The point is to do them well. You don't get brownie points for doing them "fast."
Read outside material if you can, before your class. It's good to have some sort of working knowledge so you can tell if the professor knows anything or not. Plus it will help you participate more. Have a sense of humor. No one likes to work with difficult people. Tech support is there to aid you, even if you feel like screaming at them by the time you reach them. Write down the phone numbers to call in addition to the web addresses somewhere besides on line so you know how to call if you lose power, lose connection, or lose your saved information.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. It's your class and you paid for it. So be sure and get your money's worth. IF the teacher can't answer your question, try to figure out what part they don't understand. Communication is a skill. Communicating well is useful. So take the trouble to learn how to convey what the problem is, and you will get much better results.
Have personal goals in mind. If your reason for taking the class is social Have personal goals in mind. If your reason for taking the class is social you may do better at a traditional university. It's easier to meet people in person. If you are taking the class to satisfy a work requirement you may not even care to do well. Figure out the minimum requirements to pass and be sure you do them! If you want to learn for the sheer love of learning, knock yourself out! But if you are taking the course because you need to apply the skills in your daily life be sure and pay attention. Don't move on before to satisfy a work requirement you may not even care to do well. Figure out the minimum requirements to pass and be sure you do them! If you want to learn for the sheer love of learning, knock yourself out! But if you are taking the course because you need to apply the skills in your daily life be sure and pay attention. Don't move on before you've totally learned and understood what is being taught. IF you really understand it you should be able to explain the information to someone else. IF you can't do that, may be you don't really get it.