As a current or prospective online student, you have been exposed, at one time or another, to the traditional classroom experience. It usually involves sitting in a room with other students and listening to and watching an instructor at the front of the classroom. The class may be solely a lecture or may involve group work or other modes of participation. In any case, all participants must be present at the same time, in the same room, in order for the situation to work.
So how does this idea translate to the online classroom? There are a few obvious differences. In the online classroom, there’s no need for participants to be in the same room, the same state, or even the same country. You can log in from the comfort of your own home, or wherever you happen to be at the time. Since all of the course materials, including discussions between the instructor and students, are hosted in the classroom, you can participate when it’s convenient for them. Of course, there are still hard deadlines that need to be observed.
Another important consideration is participation and interacting with your fellow students. In the traditional classroom setting, you may be sitting in a room with 25, 50, or even 100 other students, most of whom you will probably never get to know. In the online classroom, participation is an important part of the learning process. Not only do you post your assignments for your fellow students and instructor to view, but you also have the opportunity to comment on your fellow students’ work, allowing all of you to learn from each other.
If you have the preconceived notion that the online classroom experience will be basically the same as what you’ve witnessed in the traditional classroom, you will soon find that this is not the case at all, and it can open your eyes to a whole new world of learning.