*This brief self-assessment provides an opportunity for you to consider the idea of participating in an online course.  Carefully consider each statement below and choose a response, then take a moment to reflect on the "Results" of your choices.

1.I am prepared to set aside time to focus on taking a course online and to adhere to set dates and deadlines.
2.I am able to easily use the Internet for research, browsing, and communicating.
3.I am able to learn new programs and software applications easily on my own with little or no assistance.
4.I usually grasp written information quickly and can easily pull out key ideas when I read a document.
5.I enjoy the interaction that comes from a good group discussion.
6.I have the support and understanding of my mentor/family/friends.


If your responses were:

Mostly A’s

Chances are your motivation and commitment to learning are high and you understand learning is more than completing coursework – it’s understanding the content. You also get that keeping up with readings and assignments is critical in an online learning environment. Reading and writing are critical skills in any learning environment. Chances are your reading and writing skills are strong and you enjoy both. It certainly appears you have a good familiarity with computers and are comfortable with technology in general. Having a positive attitude toward technology is important, if you are to succeed in an online learning environment. It looks like you have strong support mechanisms in place. Going back to school or taking a class is time consuming and requires a lot of commitment and energy. Don’t hesitate to use your support systems.

Mostly B’s

If you are only somewhat committed to completing an online course, you may find yourself focused on finishing the course rather than focusing on learning and understanding the material. Try to be well organized as a learner and keep up with the pace of the course. Chances are that you are somewhat familiar with the basics of technology and will not have too much difficulty navigating your way around an online learning environment once you become familiar with the technology. You will be expected to share your thoughts with the others in the class and expected to react to the ideas that others have presented. It is unlikely you will have trouble.  Learning takes time and energy. Managing your time and enlisting others in helping with daily responsibilities will help you ease into learning online and will provide you with more time to concentrate on your studies.

Mostly C’s

There are certainly many benefits to taking a course online. However, be advised that many students who have taken courses online have found that even though they were not required to be at a particular place at any specific time, they found they spent more time taking an online course rather than less time.  You are going to find in an online learning environment you have to push yourself to get things done.  Chances are that you will find that there is a lot of reading – more than you had anticipated. You may not be an expert with technology.  Be honest with yourself when considering the type of technology use that will be required for you to be successful in an online course. Strong reading and writing skills are absolutely critical in an online learning environment. If you feel your skills need to be sharpened, there are tools available to you. If you are like so many of us you have a variety of responsibilities and probably already struggle to keep up with everything. Remember, taking a course online requires energy and time.

*Revised from "Distance Education Inventory: So You Are Considering Taking a Distance Education Course!" Simone Jonaitis (2005).

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