The Various Ways to Learn at an Online College

The Various Ways to Learn at an Online College

online learning formats methods
online learning formats

Although it may seem that online classes are a totally new way of learning, it is actually just a modified version of the correspondence classes.  There was a time when people could fill out a form, attach a check and mail the whole thing off to a distance learning organization.  The person would then receive a package in the mail that included all the books and worksheets to systematically teach the person a new skill.  But these types of organizations are disappearing in the wake of the bulging online colleges.

The online classes offer several benefits over the correspondence courses.  Students are able to interact with teachers and classmates through video chat, email and message forums.  Through the use of different types of media students get a more rounded exposure to the material.  Indeed, many people who once considered attending college at some remote location are now researching the option to attend classes online.  Certain areas of study seem more in line with this type of learning such as accounting, finance, business administration and human resources.

Online classes can be set up in different ways.  The main goal of the class will usually dictate the format that is used to deliver the information.  For people that are attending a class online that will require some face time in the classroom, the format will be quite different from a completely online course.  It is pertinent to understand what is expected of you before agreeing to complete the class.

Asynchronous or Synchronous

The different types of online classes can be labeled either asynchronous or synchronous.  Synchronous is a term that means “at the same time.”  Asynchronous is the opposite and means “not at the same time.”  Synchronous class will require the student to appear in classes at a set meeting time.  This may be handled by attending the physical class, watching via web camera, or chatting with the instructor and students through online messenger.

On the contrary asynchronous classes will generally have a deadline each week or every other week, allowing students to work according to their own schedules.  This type of class will require students to communicate frequently with the teacher and classmates through email and message boards online.  Much of the material used in asynchronous classes is written information rather than video or audio.

Synchronous courses obviously do not have the flexibility of the asynchronous courses.  But due to the high level of real time interaction between professors and students the synchronous format remains as the most sought after type of class.

Some classes do work better with the synchronous method because the class relies heavily on communication.  Examples are nursing, counseling psychology and general education.  The classes that require a good deal of research assignments and in depth projects are better suited to the asynchronous method.  Examples of those types of degrees are paralegal, advertising, marketing and healthcare administration.

Open Schedule Classes

This is a type of asynchronous class.  The books are usually online versions of a class text book, students are given access to email as well as mailing lists and message boards, and they are provided with several deadlines.  Students can work on assignments and complete work anytime they please as long as they meet the deadlines.  This type of freedom works great for students that are naturally driven and usually finish work on time or early.  People that procrastinate will usually struggle with this type of class.

Blended Distance Learning Class

A blended class, sometimes called a hybrid, combines different aspects of asynchronous and synchronous formats. This usually means that the students are required to meet either physically in class or at a pre-determined time online.  But their assignments can be completed at their own pace so long as they meet the deadlines.  Usually, the various assignments can be submitted online.  Some schools will provide a hybrid class when their facilities do not have enough space to hold all of their classes.

Computer Distance Class

A computer distance class is different from a hybrid class.  Students are informed before the semester starts that they must meet at a room or computer laboratory at a certain time and day on a weekly basis.

Designated Time Computer Class

This is the most prevalent type of online course.  Students do all of their learning via online studying but they basically attend class.  They meet at a certain time and on a certain day.  This is a type of synchronous format.