Online courses

>> Thursday, May 14, 2009

philly5113 asked: I might try an internet course, they cost less. Any thoughts on this?

I've taken online courses from two universities.

Taking them through my own undergrad university was easiest - their courses automatically counted towards my degree without any hoop-jumping at all, which was nice. They also came with deadlines and due dates - so it was significantly easier for me to manage my time and get things done over the course of the semester rather than working in fits and starts and then having a big rush to finish at the end of the six months time allowance I was given from the other university.

Taking courses through a different university, Athabasca U, involved a whole lot of hoop-jumping to make sure that credits would apply towards my degree. I had to get a Letter of Permission, which turned into a process that lasted WAY too long. That was in no way Athabasca's fault, though - it was the people I was dealing with at my end that were a pain in the posterior.

Athabasca U gives you up to six months to complete everything required for each course - no due dates, and no one cares if you actually get it done or not. So completing those required quite a bit more self discipline - and in one case, when I had a car accident during the week my final exam was booked, an extension (more hoop-jumping).

The one thing that ALL of the Internet based courses I have taken have shared is that although I was assigned a prof/tutor, there was next to no interaction with them. When I emailed with a specific question, the turnaround time was BRUTAL .... in far too many cases, it was in excess of two weeks. The turnaround time for marking was also far slower than I find tolerable - I absolutely and positively DETEST it when I don't have assignment #1 back until after #2 or #3 are back. It may be though, that I just wasn't lucky - surely not all online profs are that slow? I hope?!

When I teach online courses (Ha!) I will be very sure to email each student early in the course, and follow up with a how's it going partway through. And, of course, I will answer their emails and get their work back to them within a reasonable period of time.

I suspect that courses that have an interactive online component would suit me better.

I don't regret having taken any of the courses I did - nor the money I spent - but there are a lot of things that could have been done much, much better.

Have you taken (or taught) any online courses? How did they work for you? Philly and I would love to know.


  • Patricia Rockwell

    Although I never taught online courses (and I would love to do so), I always did fast turnaround for students who emailed me questions. To me, a teacher's job is primarily to help students learn and that is always more than just lecturing.

  • Margaret

    I am in the process now of taking an online degree course. I am finding that my professors get back to me much quicker if I post my question to the correct place. I very seldom email them.

    Of course, so far, I've had very few questions, but I'm sure that will change as my courses become more difficult.

    I still haven't figured out exactly how the speech class is going to work LOL

  • flit

    If they had given me any other options, I would have used them... but in mine, they only used email... no Blackboard or anything.

  • philly5113

    Thanks for following up with my question. I've shyed away from online courses before because I spend so much time on the computer already. I thought I wanted the personal contact but now online is looking pretty attractive because of the cost. I am concerned though about the interaction.

  • Mike

    I am looking for an online course for web design and development. I have tried the traditional colleges (and prefer them), however, I find them not user friendly to the student who is not full-time, residing on the campus, etc. I find it difficult to get the classes I want or need because the 'full-time' students get the slots and then the part-time students can get in if there is an opening. If there are not enough full time students enrolled, then they cancel the class. Any suggestions? Thanks

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