The scoop on learning online

By Emma McPhee

Study with your cat with online courses.

There’s more to online learning than learning in your own environment. Photo: Unsplash.

Think about this: It’s late morning. After a relaxing few hours of sleeping in, you curl up in bed with a big bowl of ice cream, load up your laptop and start school for the day. Maybe you’re tired of those 8:35 a.m. classes, looking for some flexibility in your schedule or just wanting to try something outside of the traditional classroom learning environment, but online courses probably sound like living the dream — the stressed-out student dream, that is.

Everyone learns differently, but while online courses offer students the chance to take Carleton courses outside of Ottawa and options with more flexibility for busy schedules, here are four things you should consider before signing yourself up for an online class.

1. It can be isolating.

CUOL offers a variety of options for taking online courses. Some are web-based while others require you to view a lecture, either by watching classroom live streams or signing up for Video on Demand (VOD). But no matter what way you choose to learn, you’ll be missing out on in-person contact with your professor and peers. This means you’ll have to be your own advocate. When you’re struggling with the material, or just have a question for the prof, there’s no relying on others to ask the questions for you.

2. You need to put in the time.

Just because you’re taking it outside of the traditional classroom environment doesn’t mean your online class is going to take less time or effort. Though you have more flexibility for where those hours come from, CUOL recommends you put in anywhere from four to 15 hours per week.

3. The procrastination is real.

When you don’t have to be in class, it can be tempting to put off watching your lectures until the night before the exam. Don’t do this. It’s important that students taking online courses be motivated and self-disciplined. Stay on top of assignments and watch your lectures on a weekly basis, just as you would for any other course.

4. Watch for extra costs.

While CUOL courses cost the same as regular tuition, some courses will have extra costs associated with them. VOD courses have a $50 service charge, while students writing exams off campus will have to pay an additional $60 per term.

Think you can handle the above? Then, onward, online course-taker.