Many students think that taking an online course will be easier because it reduces the need to travel to campus, you can study at times that fit your personal or work schedule, and all course materials will be easily accessible online from home. However, learning online offers its own set of challenges. The following questions will help you think about whether you are ready to take a course that is offered fully online.
- Are you aware of how your disability impacts your reading, writing, and computer access to the Internet or your ability to comprehend written information?
- Do you have the assistive technology/software you need to read documents or textbooks, write and type, or read written information on the Internet?
- Do you have an up-to-date computer and access to the Internet from home at least 10-12 hours per week, preferably a high-speed Internet connection?
- Do you know how to use a computer to upload or download files, send an email with an attached file, or install a plugin?
Your Learning Style
- Do you manage your time well, i.e., set a regular study schedule, keep track of assignments and due dates, organize your class files? Or do you depend on your instructor to remind you and keep you on track? Do you have a tendency to procrastinate?
- Do you enjoy working independently, or is working with fellow students or connecting often with your instructor important for you to be successful?
- Do you like to connect with others online, such as text messaging, Facebook, email?
- Do you tend to be quieter in a face-to-face class, so the idea of being able to “speak” at your own pace online appeals to you?
- Are you comfortable asking your classmates or instructor questions when you are confused or unsure what to do?
- Are you OK when a significant amount of reading and writing is expected in a class?
Online learning can solve some educational access issues for students with disabilities and add others. Depending on the type of disability you experience and the types of course materials built into the online course you are considering, you may find online learning beneficial or more challenging than traditional classes. If you are unsure, plan to discuss your questions and concerns with the Disability Services Coordinators at Black Hawk College.