Online learning provides great flexibility for busy learners. However, online learning also demands a disciplined approach. Not everyone feels comfortable learning in the online environment. Online courses are not easier than traditional classroom courses.
What you need to know about Online Learning
A successful online learner is:
- Able to use a variety of new technologies with ease, especially online learning technology
- Has strong interpersonal communication skills, especially verbal and written skills
- Is able to read difficult text and reflect upon those readings individually
- Is skilled in time management and organizational strategies
- Understands and values collaborative learning in groups; can provide written feedback in a collaborative and positive manner
- Has a strong desire to learn, and is able to learn from peers
- Is self directed and able to manage their time on task
Ferris' online courses are not self-paced. They fall within the traditional semester and have required participation throughout the course period. They have assigned due dates for submission of assignments.
Each instructor approaches class differently, but most require that you participate in some online interaction at least weekly. Some require participation at particular times or on specific days, but most provide for flexibility in completing coursework throughout the week. Most instructors expect you to access your class and get started on the course start date.
For classes with exams, some instructors may ask you to have a webcam on during your test taking time for a proctored exam. Others may ask that you go to a testing center or one of our regional locations for a proctored exam. Other instructors use random questions in their online exams.
Students in online classes must have basic computer skills, be able to navigate within an Internet browser, be able to locate files on their computer, and be able to upload and download files. We also recommend that students have at least a basic familiarity with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Most instructors will assume you can use these packages without needing additional help. Once you are a Ferris student you will be able to access these packages for free during your time at Ferris.
Some courses and programs will also require the purchase of additional specialized software.
It will be critical for you to have consistent and reliable access to a computer, a sufficiently fast Internet connection, and appropriate versions of software. The current minimum requirements are:
- Windows Computers: Windows 7 or newer; 4 GB RAM, Greater than 160 GB hard drive
- Apple Computers: 4 GB RAM; Greater than 160 hard drive
- Webcam: many instructors now require the use of web cameras during any scheduled synchronous meeting times and during online proctored exams.
- Internet Browsers: Students should have two different Internet browsers available for use on their computer
You will need sufficiently fast Internet connection speeds for your online learning course. Your online course will likely include uploading and downloading files such as word documents and PowerPoint presentations. You may also been required to watch videos online. Having an appropriate connection speed will allow you to participate successfully in your online course.
We currently recommend cable/broadband Internet with a minimum speed of 1.5 Mbps. Cable Internet or T1 lines tend to be faster than DSL or 4G wireless, although DSL or 4G wireless may also work depending on other factors. Your computer, other software (such as anti spyware), other users on the system, and system configurations can all influence your ultimate line speed.
If available in your area, we strongly urge you to have a satellite, DSL, or cable modem connection. Some courses/programs are not functionally feasible to take with a dial-up connection; so please be aware that if you do not have access to a high speed Internet connection, an online course may not be a good option for you.
Our system to deliver the online course content to you is Blackboard. You will be expected to know how to upload assignments, participate in online discussion boards, and in some cases participate in synchronous online meetings. We have several resources to help you learn how to use the tools in Blackboard - from self paced video tutorials in Atomic Learning to the resources provided directly from Blackboard for students. You will also need to complete an Online Readiness Orientation before signing up for your first online course.
Take our Student Readiness Quiz here: Is Online Learning Right for Me?