Online…is it the right fit?
This is a question that many people ask themselves. Do I have what it takes to go to school or even work online? I remember asking myself exactly the same thing, as well as all of the emotions that followed. I began my online education 5 years ago. My drive was to complete my Bachelor’s degree and I chose to attend online courses for the convenience. Needless to say, I am still here…online, and I love it! The online environment was a perfect fit for me in both education and employment, but that’s not the case for everyone.
So what does it take to succeed online?
First ask yourself:
- Do I have strong time management skills, or is meeting a schedule difficult for me? If you answered yes, great! Time management is essential for anyone that works or receives education online.
- Do I have strong organizational skills? Organization is crucial in the online learning environment. Some helpful tips: make a schedule, put in on your calendar and stick to it. Make bookmarks and designated folders for your work on your computer to help with organization.
- Am I self-motivated? You must be self-motivated if you work or attend classes online. It is easy to become distracted. There is always an event, family and a whole host of other things that can pull your attention away from your work. So if you want to be successful you must possess a determination and motivation to do the work.
- Do I enjoy working independently? Keep in mind that outside of team projects, the majority of your online work will be done independently. If you are not the type of person that is comfortable working under these conditions you will experience difficulty in online courses.
- Technology??? It may seem obvious, but being comfortable with technology is essential in the online environment.
- Online means easy right???? Wrong! You must enjoy being challenged; because that is what you will be the majority of the time online. As noted at: San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science. Is Online Right for You?, the average 3 credit class requires 10-15 hours of study per week.
…how does this word make you feel?
I think for most people the usual response would be fear and a shear desire to avoid the whole topic. If that includes you, don’t feel bad you’re not alone. I can honestly say that outside of work and sports I had never experienced teamwork/projects. I too dreaded the thought of having my grade be dependent upon how well my whole group performed. I have experienced teams that would literally make you skin crawl; thankfully that was not the norm. I can honestly say that the majority of my teamwork was done with teams that you actually looked forward to working with.
Whether in the online environment or on-campus, teamwork is essential. The basic standards of being on a team are the same, whether online or on-campus. If you are fortunate enough to experience teamwork online you are in for a treat, as there is a whole new dynamic to the experience. As Enid Irwin pointed out, working in online environments in school is the first step towards working in groups on the job. When working online, especially through the School of Library and Information Science at San Jose State University, you are taught real world skills though team work. As Dr. Haycock mentioned, most educational settings use a horizontal approach to team work. This means that you are working only with your peers, so everyone is looking at the project from the same perspective. Fortunately, in the SLIS program you are afforded the opportunity to have vertical team work through many different virtual formats. By working in a vertical team alignment you are able to have many different perspectives in the project. This is beneficial not only to the learning process, but to the end product.
So what pointers can I give you about working in a team?
- Hold yourself accountable for your performance. This is your future…be a reliable, responsible team member.
- Show respect for your fellow team mates. Part of respecting the team is keeping all conversation about the project within the team. A team should never divide into side-groups.
- If your team doesn’t have a clear goal don’t be afraid to suggest that one be made. This helps the entire team know what direction they are moving in.
- It is also helpful when the team declares a leader and clear deadlines for each stage of the project. If your group has not done this, suggest it.
- The biggest suggestion of all…be confident, don’t be a silent presence. Your team mates have no idea if you are there or not unless you speak/type. Every team member is important, likewise the entire team suffers when one person becomes silent or does not contribute.
The online leaning/working experience can be a wonderful experience. I hope you find your experience to be a magnificent one. Do not hesitate to comment with any questions or even to share your experiences.
~You will go far when you~
Have a good attitude! Participate! Have a plan! Have fun!