Online classes may seem more convenient than on-campus classes that require weekly attendance, but online classes may actually be more work than face-to-face classes. The online classes offered by UW Oshkosh’s Lifelong Learning and Community Engagement (LLCE, formerly known as CNL) are asynchronous—you’re not required to be in the class from, say, 6-9 p.m. on Monday nights—but they do have weekly assignments due on certain days of the week.
Students need to be prepared for their online classes by first learning the online technology. If you are comfortable navigating in the online course, you can spend your time learning and discussing in the class instead of wrestling with unfamiliar technology. LLCE has provided video tutorials to show you how to use Desire2Learn (D2L), UW Oshkosh’s online learning platform. Your academic adviser should also have enrolled you in the online student orientation, which allows you to practice posting to a discussion and uploading a document to the dropbox. This free class should show up in your D2L when you log in.
Once you’re comfortable with the technology, prepare for the class by getting your book well in advance of the course opening. Start reading ahead so you can be thinking about the subjects and forming your own thoughts and opinions. Read all the documents in the Content section of your course so you’re fully aware of what’s required and when things are due.
The online class room really develops as students engage in the discussion forum. Students who go into the discussion early and often will find their interest piqued as they read and respond to their classmate’s thoughts, ideas, and opinions. In a classroom setting discussion, usually the most outgoing talkers dominate the conversation, and other people can stay quiet and not say what they really think. In an online classroom, each person is forced to formulate his or her own opinions and to articulate them to others. Often, less-outgoing students who might not speak in a face-to-face classroom setting will express profound and thoughtful ideas. Reading all your classmates’ postings gives a “voice” to every student so that you can read and consider everyone’s ideas, and learn from them.
Being open to new subjects in the online classroom brings a surprising amount of involvement to your reading and discussing. Students who “stir up” their interest in new subjects will find themselves engaged by the new thoughts and ideas they have, and will be more open to considering and learning from others’ ideas.
Remember, writing in both the online discussion forums and for papers needs to be at a professional level. You should consider that you are writing to your boss or to a prospective client. Everything needs to be spelled properly with correct grammar and punctuation. Seek help from the Writing Center with their online tutoring options if you need it.
Katherine Chase Carstens is an academic adviser for the Division of Lifelong Learning and Community Engagement. Katherine understands the online learning environment well, as she has earned two degrees by taking some online classes and she teaches online. Specifically, Katherine works with prospective students who have a technical college degree.