Online courses are not just a solution to the problem of scheduling conflicts and freeing up classroom space. When managed responsibly, online courses can provide students with valuable skills that will carry them though the process of job applications and ultimately, long-term career success.
Self-discipline: Taking an online course requires a healthy dose of self-discipline. When taking an online course, students must learn to manage their own schedules and be responsible for completing their assignment on time. Often, students taking online courses are balancing their schoolwork with family life and a full-time or part-time job. In such situations, students are forced to find ways to put aside all distractions and focus solely on their schoolwork, without the aid of the classroom setting and professor’s presence to help them keep focused.
Accountability: Professors are less inclined to accept excuses for missing or incomplete assignments when students have so much flexibility in their schedule. It’s one thing for a student to say he had to miss class for a dentist appointment; it’s quite another for him to say that he couldn’t find a 30-minute slot in his week to take the weekly quiz.
Organization & Time Management: Every week, students must remember to check the updates and announcements for each of their online courses. They must remember to study course materials, work on assignments, participate in discussion boards, and fill out tests and quizzes. Deadlines or test dates might be posted only once, and there is no professor around to remind students about their assignements day after day.
Internet research skills: With a wealth of online resources just a few clicks away, students in online courses will naturally gravitate toward finding answers to their questions online. Instead of raising their hand and asking the professor, students learn to research concepts and and resolve their questions on their own.
Staying motivated: In an online course, students lack the natural pressure generated by their professor and fellow students. In the absence of these factors, students learn create their own internal drive to succeed.
Being proactive: When students don’t understand concepts in the classroom, they can easily get clarification from their peers or from the professor. In an online course, however, students can’t just lean over to their friends or walk right up to the professor; they must learn to reach out and ask for help from others. Which leads in to the next skill:
Communicating Online: Students learn how to communicate with their professor and peers by writing clear, purposeful, and thought-out emails. This is a valuable skill for future employment, since much of business communication occurs over the internet. In particular, students of online courses learn to communicate with people whom they have never met face-to-face.
Adaptability: In a traditional university course, schedules and assignments are structured and predictable. But in an online course, there is substantial flexibility, and with that flexibility comes more room for chaos. Internet connections may be shaky or crash entirely, or students might get very busy with their other jobs and responsibilities. While working through an online course, students learn to adapt to these changes and develop strategies to work around them in order to get their work done.