Overcoming Technology Challenges for Online School
According to the Online Learning Consortium there are over 6.7 million students enrolled in online classes. With this new profile of students brings both opportunities and challenges. One particular challenge you may encounter is managing the technology needed to succeed in an online learning environment.
Read on to learn five ways to help you navigate the technology issues you might face as an online learner.
Set yourself up for success
Online learning can potentially have unlimited flexibility. At times, this can be a benefit and a burden. To avoid being bogged down by distractions or technical difficulties identify resources you’ll need before you begin classes. These resources – from technical support to on-campus advisors – may provide helpful tools that will leave you less frustrated when technology fails. Successful online students who know when and where to ask for help may be more likely to find motivation from within to push through minor setbacks associated with technology. Regardless of the struggles you face, stay focused on the end goal of experiencing a rewarding education.
Connect with your online peers
One perk of participating in online classes is the ability to complete the curriculum on your own time and in your own space; however, that perk may transform into feeling like you’re isolated and alone in your quest for a degree. If you’re concerned you may fall into this category, find out what additional opportunities your institution provides for online learners to have social interaction during a given course. Seek out programs that create opportunities to network with your online classmates and professors.
If you’re finding you’re still not getting enough interaction with your peers, consider visiting your school’s Facebook page or go to LinkedIn for peer-to-peer networking. Also think about attending available virtual office hours your professor may offer. Virtual office hours can offer an opportunity to get personalized feedback and connect with your course instructor.
Do your technology homework
Each online program will have its own nuances of system requirements, learning management systems and other specialized software programs that may be required for your course or program. Finding out ahead of time what technology requirements you’ll need will help alleviate anxiety in the long term. For example, CTU provides an overview of Hardware and Software Requirements to enhance the quality of your online learning experience.
In addition to knowing the system requirements for your computer and software programs you’ll need to learn, and depending on your comfort level with technology—you may also consider spending time learning basic technical skills. For example, you will want to have a strong familiarity with how to:
- Connect to WiFi
- Navigate the Internet
- Use word processing programs such as Microsoft Office
- Download software or video files
- Create new documents
Understand your options
Depending on the institution you’re considering, there may be more than one option for students to receive instruction. If you already know technology may be a challenge for you, researching what types of instruction your institution offers may enhance your overall experience. CTU offers three different types of instruction available to students:
- Fully Synchronous Delivery provides the “traditional classroom” experience; the faculty and students are in the same place at the same time.
- Blended/Hybrid delivers instruction both face-to-face and through CTU’s learning management systems.
- Online/Virtual Delivery permits students to take online courses through the Virtual Campus, My Campus Portal; online delivery may also include experiences of real-time, virtual chats or discussions.
If you’re curious about CTU’s Virtual Campus, you can access the virtual tour that provides an overview of what to expect when using this tool.
Identify potential funding sources
Depending on your situation the biggest challenge may not be figuring out the technology, but your challenge may be overcoming the financial cost that can accompany an online learning environment. Problems like – My laptop just died. I need to buy another one. – can be alleviated if you identify financial aid resources available to you before disaster strikes. If you’re unsure of where to start, the CTU Financial Aid Office is available to answer questions and provide guidance.
Additionally, there are federal student aid programs that potentially cover such expenses as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies and even transportation. According to Studentaid.ed.gov, the three types of federal student aid include grants, loans and work-study.
Technology isn’t perfect, so at times you may feel like it’s more of a foe than a friend. The good news is that you can follow the steps in this article to help mitigate technology issues you might face. College is an exciting time—full of opportunities and challenges, but nothing, including technology, should stand in the way of completing your online education.