Online Learning-Carolyn Fish

Dutchess Community College recently held an informational seminar regarding online classes, offering students a chance to ask questions, and see if this was the right choice. There are several reasons students may pursue online learning, whether to resolve scheduling conflicts (some have families and children), or whether campus learning just isn’t the right fit. The event was sponsored by Student Academic Services, and several professors were present to promote the program and encourage students to enroll for online classes. I was interested in attending since I wondered if I could handle an online class in addition to my campus-held classes. I had little knowledge about online classes and I was excited about the prospect of learning about the process. I had several questions prepared before attending the seminar, and I was hopeful I would leave there with some knowledge on the subject.

The event was held in a lecture hall in Hudson Hall. There were several posters lining the walls and it was easy to find. Upon entering, I was immediately greeted by Dr. Kathleen Hanlon O’Connell who was heading the seminar. Dr. O’Connell is a professor of behavioral sciences at Dutchess Community College. She teaches on-campus as well as online classes. The lecture hall was filled with fifteen professors who teach online courses throughout the year. They were there to give insight on their specific online classes and what can be expected. Dr. O’Connell invited several students who are current online students as well, specifically to give everyone a student’s point of view. The faculty was very helpful, and there was plentiful information given: everyone received the online course policy, a questionnaire to determine if online learning is right for them, as well as the online course list for the fall semester. The lecture hall was well attended.

This seminar was engaging and interactive. The basics about online learning were explained, encouraging questions. The answers were thorough. I learned more than I had expected. I was unaware there were hybrid classes, where most of your course is taught online, but you still meet with your class once a week in most cases. One specific question I had was how often you are in contact with the professors. I was surprised to find out you are in constant contact with them, even more so than a typical on-campus class. If a student who is new to online learning is concerned with being able to navigate through the online classroom, Dutchess Community College opens the online courses a week prior to classes starting. This provides students a chance to get comfortable with the system. The faculty and current online students in attendance were full of tips for first time online learning students. Learning how to manage your time properly is crucial for success in the online classroom. Dr. O’Connell suggests starting with one online course to see if it’s a good fit. Some of the current online students recommend the use of a planner to keep track of assignments due, especially if you are taking on-campus classes as well.

Online learning is not for everyone, which is why they urge you to carefully think through the decision. Some think an online class will be easier than an on-campus class, but the amount of work is unchanged. It takes more effort and focus on the student’s part. I believe attending this session has prepared me for enrolling in an online class. I was very pleased with the event and the faculty who attended. If I had to change anything about it, I would have extended the time. The event lasted one hour with more to talk about. If possible, I would have made this session a two-hour event. I would highly recommend this seminar to anyone who is interested in taking an online course.