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Self-Assessment for Distance Education

Online Course Readiness Assessment

The following assessment will help you decide if you are ready to take an online course. These assessments do not provide any assurance of success, but they do offer some additional information about the traits that tend to make one a successful online learner.

Technical Considerations

Comfort Level With Computers

  1. Can you run the applications you need to use on a computer? This should include any specific applications which may be required as part of the course.
  2. Can you create, save and manage files on your computer?
  3. Do you know how to install software on your computer if you need to?

Internet Access

  1. Can you access Internet email and the World Wide Web (WWW) at least twice a week?
  2. If you do not have your own computer, can you get to campus to use the computer labs or arrange to use some other computer at least twice 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 "paste" text from a word processor into an email message?
  5. Do you know how to receive a file attachment from an incoming email message?

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 (or do you learn best from spoken or visual presentations)?
  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!)? 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.

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 statements/questions in parentheses, then you may find the online learning environment less satisfying. Most of our online courses make use of a classroom discussion list that allows 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. The online classroom requires you to structure your own schedule, balancing 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. This self assessment has been created to help you decide if online learning is for you. It can serve as an indicator but not as a definitive answer.


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