Ready to Study Online ?
Many new students considering options to study online will adjust to online methods quite quickly, and it is often assumed that students are much more ‘tech-savvy’ than faculty, however, new entrants to an online study programme should recognise that studying online is in many ways quite different in its approach when compared to traditional face-to-face methods. Probably the most important aspect of this is ‘scheduling’ and managing the time commitments associated to learning, as there may be no traditional set lectures or physical classes to attend.
The design [shape] of an online course
Good course design is integral to success when studying online. Online courses vary hugely from one learning provider to another – some courses may not be much more than a traditional ‘distance’ course, whilst others will use the benefits of an integrated and interactive learning management system. At Digital Construction Academy, our learners are considered to be ‘connected’ learners, rather than distance learners. Course programmes are well structured to provide steady and progressive development of skills and knowledge and course content is provided in a variety of media, with an effective combination of well-designed elements providing clear guidelines of what is expected of learners, whilst allowing students the flexibility to self-manage and encourage individual growth – critical aspects in any design based curriculum.
How much support will you get from staff ?
A good indication that courses reflect the needs of learners, and that an institution has considered the learner needs, is the quality and extent of support material. This might be administrative support – at Digital Construction Academy, all learners are provided with student / course handbooks, documented learner pathways, and a range of additional general resources which are made available at the time of entry and are defined to suit the needs of the course programme.
Administrative support staff are always on hand during normal working hours to deal with any aspect of your progress not directly related to academic support, and we are also keen to avoid any barriers to learning, where additional learning needs may be needed.
Are you prepared for online learning ?
Ensure you are ready to take a particular course or programme.
Do you have the appropriate reading and writing skills? Online courses can potentially have a great deal of reading material, and many courses require substantial amounts of formal writing. At Digital Construction Academy, our courses are design based, graphic-led programmes which dictate a great deal of visual learning through the use of video and other embedded media material. All courses, however, will generally always have an element of both extended reading, research and formal writing and presentation.
Do you have the appropriate maths skills? Some courses might include an element of mathematical manipulation or have dedicated mathematics elements. Is it some time since you last used algebra or trigonometry for example? Might you need a refresher course? Or specialist help?
Do you meet the general entry requirements? Always check the entry requirements to any course and ascertain that you possess the required pre-entry conditions.
Managing your work load and study schedule
A great misconception of online study is that it is often viewed as some kind of ‘shortcut’, when compared to normal study conventions. Or that corners are somehow being cut. An online course in any discipline should, and generally, will take about the same duration as its normal counterpart being delivered in a face to face environment.
The difference is CONVENIENCE. You will always know exactly where you with Digital Construction Academy, and know when your expected deadlines and target objectives might be, but the powerful and flexible issue with online study is in the when and how you study. This is your call. If you cannot self-manage your learning hours and stick to the prescribed procedures and protocols of study, then an online course might not be for you.
And don’t over-commit yourself, if the course allows for part time study following 8 hours of effort on your part per week, stick to that and you won’t go too far wrong. Most of our students at Digital Construction Academy are in some kind of part-time or full-time work, but you have to take the responsibility of managing your study workload around family commitments, sports, other leisure activities and so forth. Most students will cope with these issues well enough, but fail to plan, then PLAN TO FAIL.
Lecturing Staff – a key differential
At Digital Construction Academy, one of our most critical support tools which is a key to your success as an online student is the quality of live, hands-on support you get from your instructor in the course. While some elements of courses require you to work in an ‘isolated’ fashion, many subject areas in our design-led disciplines benefit greatly from student-lecturer interaction.
We routinely provide live, web tutorial support which makes a great difference to your learning – illustrating techniques, demonstrating alternative solutions, or simply providing an opportunity for more in-depth discussion when required. At Digital Construction Academy, we consider you to be a connected learner, not a distance learner.
Webinar tutorial support with academic staff can be provided as a regular feature of your learning experience, and you are likely, in fact, to have more dedicated time with a lecturer than you are likely to have at the end of a class in a face-to-face teaching environment.