The flexibility of online college and the ability to complete coursework on your own schedule from virtually anywhere in the world appeal to a wide audience. However, some prospective students of distance learning college programs aren’t all that tech-savvy. They may worry that the online aspect of online college may require computer skills they don’t have and may not be able to learn quickly enough. Fortunately, online college courses aren’t designed exclusively for technology experts.
Understanding the Components of an Online Course
The typical online college course has four basic components, according to U.S. News & World Report. Experts consider it fairly easy to adapt to the online format, even for students who don’t have much technical experience. The first component is the learning management system (LMS). This platform is the virtual classroom where students log on and access coursework, professor announcements, online group discussions and the course syllabus. Blackboard, Desire2Learn and Moodle are among the most commonly used learning management systems. None of these systems require advanced computer knowledge or technical skills. Students who know how to browse the Internet even casually can easily learn to use an LMS.
Course materials are another important component of all online courses. Students may need to purchase physical or electronic textbooks, depending on the class, but they will almost certainly need to access additional course materials online. Students will be able to access educational content such as readings, audio podcasts, video lectures and slideshow presentations from the course’s LMS.
Assignments, another core component of online courses, are also available on the LMS. Students typically access a list of assignments and corresponding due dates on the LMS, and they also submit those assignments using the platform. The most technical requirement might arise from any group projects the instructor assigns. Students may need to learn to use programs like Skype and platforms like Google Hangouts to interact with fellow students in their group – but if they’re struggling technically, they can always seek help from a group member.
Grading is the final component that makes up a typical online course. In many ways, grading in an online course is similar to grading in a traditional class. However, to prevent academic dishonesty, some online schools require virtual proctoring on tests, where students have to use a webcam to show that they are the ones actually completing the exam.
The Computer and Technology Skills for Online College
The typical online college course doesn’t require students to purchase special software or to have a special type of computer. Once students understand the basic components of an online college course, it’s not hard to put the necessary technology to work – even for students who are only casual Internet users. Students simply log onto the class’s learning management system and use it as a central hub from which they can find course materials, complete and submit assignments and interact with other students in their virtual classroom.