Taking high school or college courses through online distance learning allows students to hold down a job or take care of other responsibilities while also earning school credits. As long as the credits are accepted as equivalent to those earned at traditional on-site schools, Internet classes let students learn quality information from many geographical locations. The best way to choose online classes is to pick ones that not only work with the credits or skills you need to gain, but that also fit in with your schedule. Not only does adequate time have to be allowed for homework, assignments, studying and test taking, not all online classes are self-paced.
Self-paced Internet classes allow students to log in at any time during the day or night. These courses offer the most flexibility since the student can organize the time needed for the classes around his or her individual schedule. A strict schedule should be created and adhered to, however, as self-paced online classes require a great deal of motivation and initiative on the part of the student. Some assignments and exams must still be completed to meet deadlines and requirements set by the school.
Paced online courses limit the time in which a student can be logged in working on classes since the objective in this type of learning is to have a group of learners working through the material together. An advantage of this kind of distance learning approach is that students may benefit from the questions and ideas raised by other students. Since strict dates and times are set for each aspect of the course, there is no need for the student to take time organizing a plan to complete the online classes around his or her work and personal schedule. A disadvantage of paced online high school or college courses is that the student may have to commit to working at a much faster or slower pace that he or she would at self-paced Internet courses.
Class size is a consideration to make when choosing either paced or self-paced online classes. There shouldn’t be more than 25 or 30 online students per class to ensure that each student will get enough course help and attention from the instructor. Many distance learning classes feature marked group assignments, so working online with large groups of students may be difficult in terms of organization and communication. For example, if even one student in the group can't be reached by email or telephone in time to discuss the progress of the project with the other group members, the quality and completion of the assignment may be compromised.