Taking courses online is a popular option which offers many advantages. However, as an online student you must be comfortable with the specific approaches and responsibilities associated with online learning. To succeed with online learning, you must demonstrate certain characteristics, have good computer skills and meet the technical and software requirements of your educational institution.
Characteristics of someone likely to succeed with online learning
- Be comfortable following written instructions and viewing lesson materials using the computer.
- Have the necessary discipline to take responsibility for your own learning, visit the course site at regular intervals, and meet deadlines.
- Be committed to writing your thoughts and perspectives on specific topics and participating in written discussions with fellow students.
- Have the time to commit to an online course.
It is a common misconception that taking a course online is easier and less time-consuming than the traditional classroom approach to learning. It is true that online students save the time required to travel to a course site, and are free to work when and where they choose. However, the time commitment required for online study is significant; studies have indicated that students taking an online course regularly commit 5 to 12 hours weekly to their online study.
As an online learner, you must be able to:
- Perform basic functions on the computer (turning it on and off, rebooting, using a mouse, saving a file, etc.).
- Organize your electronic files efficiently, so that you can find them easily.
- Locate lost files on your hard drive.
- Use word processing software to create and edit documents.
- Use the Internet to send and receive email, including email messages with an attached file.
- Use URLs or web addresses to locate articles, readings, etc.
Technical and software requirements
At a minimum, you will need the following:
- Regular access to a computer with an Internet connection. Consult the course provider for specific information on processor requirements, RAM, operating system requirements, etc.
- An Internet account, ideally with a high speed connection. A dial-up connection may work, but you will spend a lot of time waiting for files to download.
- A web browser that meets specifications.
- A personal email account, or the ability to access an assigned email account within your course.
- Specific software to access course materials, create and edit documents, access examinations if required, etc.
The educational institution offering the National Pharmacy Technician Bridging Education Program has likely prepared a more detailed guide about hardware and software requirements to assist you in ensuring a successful online learning experience.