Is Online Learning Appropriate For You?

  1. If you are thinking about enrolling in an entirely distance-based program or just one online course, please take a moment to honestly answer the questions below to help determine whether online learning is appropriate for you.

    Is Online Learning Appropriate For You?

    Online learning requires an explicit repertoire of skills, savvy, perseverance and capabilities to succeed. Many learners certainly have what it takes to thrive in a distance-based learning environment, whereas other students would be better off in a physical classroom or lecture hall that permits regular face-to-face encounters with course instructors. Now that we've established that not all learners will prosper in a distance-based format, please take a moment to honestly answer the following questions to assist in determining whether online learning is appropriate for you.

    How do you feel about having no in-person contact with instructors?

    Online courses yield no face-to-face contact with instructors unless, of course, you attend a hybrid class with expectations that all students arrive to class every so often.

    What do you think about having no in-person contact with classmates?

    Most online courses provide no face-to-face interaction with classmates. The main exceptions, of course, are the hybrid courses that require students to come to class every once in a while. However, many learners feel a sense of belonging when participating in mandatory online class-based discussions and forums.

    What are your thoughts on independent studying?

    The successful online learner must be able to study independently, draw upon all available resources, practice superb time management, and possess the inner stimulus to perform well.

    How computer-literate are you?

    Online learners need to be able to send and receive emails, attach documents to emails, browse the world wide web, use word processing software, troubleshoot occasional technical issues, navigate internet course delivery platforms such as Blackboard, download files, and so much more. Furthermore, a high speed internet connection will greatly benefit online students.

    Is your reading comprehension exceptional?

    For best results, online learners must fully comprehend the written instructions that come with assigned coursework. After all, the instructor is not in front of you to readily clarify the questions you may have regarding your assignments.

    Are your writing skills satisfactory?

    Today's online learner needs to possess acceptable writing skills. Solid writing skills and a strong ability to convert your thoughts into written words will benefit you in several ways. First of all, you will be able to keep up with the plethora of writing assignments that some professors seem to favor. Secondly, you'll have the ability to send clear email communications to instructors and other pertinent people. Finally, your virtual classmates will understand your written communications on internet discussion boards.

    Do you have enough time to study?

    You will need to spend as much, if not more, time studying for an online course as you would with the typical in-person class. You will also need to be independent and relatively self-directed for online learning to work to your advantage.
    Last edit by Joe V on Sep 4, '18
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    About TheCommuter, BSN, RN

    TheCommuter is a moderator of and has varied experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for more than four years prior to becoming a registered nurse.

    Joined: Feb '05; Posts: 38,032; Likes: 69,296
    CRRN, now a case management RN; from US
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  3. by   Kamilah Coney
    Honestly, I can say that online learning is half appropriate for me. I have done well in the past without in-person contact with instructors (because I had email access to them) and personally I can do much without in-person contact with classmates (too many personalities clashing with one another makes it a hard learning environment). The reason it is half appropriate (even though I am engaged on online learning as we speak) is because I can't manage my study time as needed. I have far too many distractions at home. When I am physically and mentally balanced enough to study, I have other obligations that force me to put it off until another time, and this can occur for days at a time. When I FINALLY can open up my textbooks, skim through notes, and apply what I have learned to practice questions it's way too late at night and/or too close to the time when my kids will be up and at it again (I "home school" my kids and have no choice but to work the grave yard shift [8-13 hour shifts]). I am positive I am not the only one out here that has this same dilemma. I hope that even though I have to sacrifice my study time, I can still successfully fulfill my educational desires (LPN-RN-BSN). May you all have success in what you are pursuing.

    D.Coney LPN- E.C Assocate Nursing Student
  4. by   meanmaryjean
    Online was a surprisingly good fit for me. I worried a LOT about motivating myself to study, but found it was not a problem on a daily basis.

    The REAL benefits for me as a night shifter were being able to study whenever/ wherever I wanted and (the BIG ONE) spending absolutely zero time circling the parking lot at the university looking for a place to park. The only gas I bought in the whole program was to attend graduation!!
  5. by   Rose_Queen
    Online for me has its pros and cons. During all but the final semester, the structure of required reading, videos, and assignments kept me on task. However, I'm now in my clinical practice semester, and I'm finding it much harder to stay motivated without the required readings, even though there are assignments due every week.

    On the other hand, it does make my work schedule much more manageable that I don't have to request not to be on call so that I don't have to be worried about not being able to attend class. I can do school things when it best suits me- late afternoon into early evening, which allows a break after work.
  6. by   TheCommuter
    Quote from RN2BE2016
    I can't manage my study time as needed. I have far too many distractions at home.
    Same here. I'm an easily distracted person who has issues with procrastination. I also have trouble staying motivated and finishing whatever projects I start. However, I'm going to earn some sheepskins at the end of the pipeline because I'm not about to let my hard-earned tuition dollars go to waste!
  7. by   AmyRN303
    I love online learning. I enjoy working at my own pace and submitting my work when I finish it, which is usually early. I'm not a fan of message board style required posting, but I do it anyway if required. I did most of my non-science prerequisites this way and will likely complete my BSN online.
  8. by   NutmeggeRN
    I thrived and was extremely motivated to succeed. As a young learner in college, I struggled, had too many distractions, too much get the idea. I started my online graduate degree @ 49 and it worked out well for me. (I have no other distractions ie husband, kids etc) so it worked. I only wish I hade been able to do it earlier in my career. The class that was hard for me was managerial accounting. Math is not my strength and I would have done better in the classroom, but I survived, got a B (all the other classes were A's).
    Maturity and focus played a HUGE part in my success. I had no problem working full time and a part time job, taking a vacation etc. I just planned!
  9. by   amygarside
    Online education is very practical especially to those who are already working. However, you should first assess yourself if you can really learn well in this process. There are a lot of things that you should consider.
  10. by   Ecl09
    Quote from amygarside
    Online education is very practical especially to those who are already working. However, you should first assess yourself if you can really learn well in this process. There are a lot of things that you should consider.
    I completely agree. I found it helpful to look at what expectations specific nursing schools had for their online students before I decided whether or not to take the online route. You can often times find Q&A sessions online with representatives from a given nursing program (here's an example: interview about online BSN program). Time management has always been my biggest struggle, so I am forcing myself to go to my local library to study rather than staying at home, surrounded by distractions.
  11. by   Ava Z.
    Online learning is a great option for those with jobs and/or families. However, as was mentioned before, it does require a tremendous amount of discipline. You must be incredibly responsible and really, truly want it to succeed. The best way to go about ensuring that you'll make the most of your online schooling experience is to have a carefully planned out schedule. Without one, the work will just pile up endlessly and leave you feeling helpless. Another great idea; if possible, try and go through the online schooling with a friend. It'll be so much easier if there's a physical person with whom you can discuss the challenges and questions that may arise over the course of your schooling. Good luck to all you online nursing students!
  12. by   TheCommuter
    Quote from Medical Scrubs Co.
    The best way to go about ensuring that you'll make the most of your online schooling experience is to have a carefully planned out schedule.
    I totally agree with planning one's schedule.

    As someone once said: "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!"
  13. by   MyCall2Nsg
    I am motivated to continue my nursing education and really like the idea of doing it online as it will allow me to continue my full time employment and care for my family. I think it is a great asset to the working community, and I can definitely be disciplined and committed to the task at hand. I am having a hard time narrowing the search down to the one online program that is the right fit for me. I have been accepted at Chamberlain but I can't afford their tuition. Even tuition reimbursement I will have a huge balance to pay back if I take the financial aid.
    So I have looked at several others like: University of Central Florida, Walden University, Grand Canyon University, Capella University and Western Governors University. Besides cost I need a program that I can finish in a timely manner and be adequately prepared to be an efficient advance practitioner. My goal is to obtain my BSN and MSN in Nursing Education and later Women's Health Nurse Practitioner. I have been an RN for over 20 yrs and I also have some college credits that will transfer. My experience is in Med Surg, Ortho, and OB-GYN. I enjoy being a preceptor for new grads and Rns new to my department.

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