Adult Online Learning: How to, What, and Why

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How to Information for Online Learning

From our economy to our politics the world has become even more global. Technology has moved the way we share information and deliver information to a new level as well. It is not surprising that this technology has also made its way into our classrooms. Online learning for the adult student is a direct result of this globalization and the subject of this conversation. So let’s get started.

Online learning for any learner is based on the premise of both convenience and technological integration. Where you once had to sit in a classroom several days a week you can now pursue that college degree online in the comfort and convenience of your own home. The course offering come in 10 week segments and depending upon the individual’s commitment can allow the online learner to achieve their goals at an accelerated rate. For example this writer was able to complete a Master of Education in Instructional Technology in 10 months. So how do you get started?

Online education begins with deciding what your educational goal is. Online learning in the beginning was a specialized area with only certain institutions offering online degrees. However, now over 97% of the colleges and universities offer online education and degrees. This is where the homework begins. Go to the college or university of your choice and investigate what they offer to see if it fits both your needs and your time table. Talking to a counselor via phone or email can help you to manage this decision. Next, you will apply for admission as if you were going to be on campus and apply for financial aid if applicable. This will include the need to go to the government web site FAFSA to fill out the financial aid registration online. This can take up to several weeks so allow for plenty of time to complete this step. The FAFSA must be done in order to be considered for any financial aid including grants and government subsidized and unsubsidized loans.

Once you have applied for admission and been accepted and your financial aid has been processed you are ready to enroll in your first classes. There are some key elements to success in this environment. First, you must have a solid working knowledge of the computer and the ability to navigate the web. The opening class in the online environment usually involves a tutorial on how to navigate the classroom and the college’s online environment. Dial up connection is not advisable here as the download time for assignments could be troublesome at best. DSL or Broadband is the advised norm here. Secondly, you must be intentional in your time management. Find a specific time to visit your classroom so that you can stay on top of discussions and assignments. Remember even though each week assignments are due by midnight Sunday if you wait until Friday or Saturday to do them you will give yourself a lot of unnecessary stress and, in some classrooms you are graded on your interaction with others in your class.

In the end the strengths of the online environment are convenience, opportunity and a diversity rich learning environment. The convenience is found in the ability to work from home and move at a pace that suits both your schedule and your life needs. The opportunity is found in the wealth of learning opportunities that are now present in various online learning environments’ which allow anyone to change their life path. Finally within the online learning environment you will have the opportunity to share your thoughts and ideas with people all over the world. I like to refer to it as educations largest think tank. You will meet new people from every corner and share both your insights and your discoveries which will only enhance your learning discoveries.