Western Kentucky University

WKU Online

Orientation for Online Learners

Is Distance Learning For Me?

Distance learning can be a wonderful alternative for students. Distance courses offer increased flexibility allowing you to balance family, work and school like never before! However, before making the decision to enroll in a distance course, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Online and face-to-face courses are equally rigorous. The material in an online course is the same as what is covered in a face-to-face course, and courses are taught by WKU faculty. Transcripts do not note a difference in the delivery mode of the course at WKU.

Online courses are delivered via Blackboard, unless otherwise noted. Students chat with other students online, interact with the professor, and upload assignments within the Blackboard system. To learn more about Blackboard complete the tutorials located in the Enrollment section of this orientation. Please note: The Music Department uses a different delivery software for certain courses. Please read your syllabus carefully! If you're still uncertain, contact the department for more information.

It is important to realize that success in an online course requires self-discipline, motivation, organization and you must possess reasonably strong written communication skills. If you have the right qualities to be a successful online student, you will find online learning both convenient and rewarding.

We have an assessment to help you determine if you're a good candidate for online learning. The Student Readiness Quiz will provide you with feedback and help you make an informed decision.

Here are a few things to consider before you decide to enroll in an online or independent learning course:

Do you have self-discipline and motivation?
Online courses are asynchronous, which means that students participate and complete their assignments at different times throughout the day and week. Asynchronous learning brings increased freedom and flexibility, making it possible for you to complete your course work at a time that's most convenient for you. However with this increased flexibility comes increased responsibility. Without the structure/accountability of regular class meetings, it is easy to procrastinate, and fall behind in the course. Remember, it is up to you to keep up with assignments.
Are you able to commit time each day or week to your online course(s)?
Online courses often require at least as much, if not more time than traditional courses. Completing course assignments and other learning activities can take several hours per week. We recommend checking your blackboard course a minimum of 3 times each week, and you may find that you need to to so almost every day. Make sure you can make this commitment prior to enrolling in the course(s).
Do you have strong written communication skills?
In online courses nearly all communication is written, so it is critical that you have strong written communication skills. If you feel that you are weak in this area, try to brush up on your writing skills. You can also contact the Writing Center at WKU, and have them review your work by email. The Learning Center at WKU also provides online tutoring in several subject areas.
Do you feel comfortable asking questions?
If you find that you are having difficulty understanding assignments or accessing course materials, you should contact your instructor as soon as possible. Communication is especially important in an online environment, since you do not have the same type of interaction online as you do in a traditional classroom setting. If you do not ask questions, the instructor will never know there is a problem.
Are you reasonably comfortable using computers and the Internet?
A personal computer is required for online courses. You do not need to be an expert, nor do you need a high-tech computer, but you do need to have some basic technology skills, such as word processing and using a Web browser. You also need regular access to a computer with an Internet connection. For more information on hardware and software requirements click here.

Proceed to "Technology Requirements"

 Last Modified 3/5/14