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Are You Ready for Online Learning?

Use the following self-assessment questionaire to help you determine if you are ready to take an online course at Northwestern State University. This assessment covers both technical as well as learning style considerations. 

Technical Considerations

Comfort Level With Computers
  1. Can you run and utilize basic applications, programs, and/or software on a computer (e.g. word processing programs, internet browsers, email)?
  2. Can you create, save and manage files on your computer?
  3. Do you know how to install software on your computer if needed?
Internet Access
  1. Can you regularly access the Internet and email?
  2. If you do not have your own computer, can you gain access to a computer multiple times a week?
Internet Skills
  1. Do you currently have an email address?
  2. Do you know how to send and receive email messages?
  3. Do you know how to attach a file to an email message?
  4. Do you know how to "copy" and "paste" text from a word processor into an email message?
  5. Do you know how to open a file attachment from an incoming email message?
  6. Do you have multimedia capabilities on the computer system you will be using (i.e. speakers, camera, adobe flash player, etc.)?

Learning Style Considerations

  1. Do you stay on task without direct supervision, or do you work best when someone is there to help keep you focused?
  2. Can you prioritize your own workload, or do you tend to put tasks off for later?
  3. Do you learn best from reading text and assignments on your own, or do you learn best from spoken or visual presentations with student interaction?
  4. Do you enjoy learning new computer or technology skills, or does the thought of having to learn new computer or technology skills cause you anxiety?
  5. Do you usually understand written instructions, or does having instructions explained make a big difference for you?
  6. Are you planning to allocate as much time in your schedule for your online course as you would for a more "traditional' classroom course (because the workload and time commitment will be the same!)?
  7. Are you good at assessing your own progress, or do you need instructor feedback right away?

How to Assess Your Answers

If you answered "No" to any of the Technical Consideration questions above, you may want to reconsider taking a course online. At the very least, you will have some technology to learn in addition to the curriculum of the course(s) you take, and you should make extra time in your schedule accordingly.  All of the skills mentioned above are used in most of our online courses. Technical support is available throughout the semester; however, in most cases you will be expected to already know how to use the Internet and the tools referenced above. 

In the Learning Style Consideration questions, being able to answer the questions affirmatively is a good indicator that you are well suited to the online classroom environment.  If your answers lean more toward the second statement in each sentence, then you may find the online learning environment less satisfying.  Most of our online courses make use of class discussion forums which allow interaction between students and instructors as well as between students.  However, email based interaction can be less satisfying than face-to-face communication for some learners.

Online courses require you to structure your own schedule.  You will need to balance your time around the assignments/requirements of the class. Without the need to show up in a particular place at a designated time each week, some learners find it all too easy to put work off until the last minute.  Much of the material covered in a typical online class will require you to learn from reading.  This may include textbooks, Internet-based materials and written "lectures" or notes from your instructor.

If you have any questions about taking a course online, please contact Electronic & Continuing Education at (318) 357-6355.  We are here to assist you. If you have any questions about a particular course, please contact the instructor.