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Course Structure Matters in Online Education

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Before you begin your elearning experience, make sure you know what you're getting into. Studies show that simple elements of the courses you take online can have a major impact on your overall experience.

Recently the journal Online Cl@ssroom reported that a study by David Stein indicates that course structure affects student satisfaction. The study found that some of the most important structural elements of online courses are clarity of course objectives and the amount of interaction involved.

In Online Education Clarity Is Key

Stein's study found that one of the more important issues for students is that, no matter whether it is online elementary schools or online graduate schools, structure matters. Online students have a greater need for "clearly defined objectives, assignments, and deadlines" than traditional students. When considering which courses to take online, make sure to check out the course website and see if the structure of the course is clearly defined.

Interaction Is Important When it Comes to Elearning

According to the study, class participation can vary significantly. Elearning students said that interaction between the instructor and the students is the most important factor when it comes to the overall value of the class.

Before you begin your education online, make sure that the college encourages and even requires high levels of student-teacher communication. The course should clearly call for several kinds of interaction such as regular email communication, live class chat rooms, question and answer sessions, and weekly posts.

Not All Courses Are the Same Online

As with any learning environment, elearning experiences will differ from course to course and school to school. Part of your responsibility as a student is researching your future courses and institution.

When considering your choices for online education, make sure that you know what kind of environment will help you to succeed. If you're like most students, your satisfaction will be affected by the structure of the course. Look for course goal clarity and high levels of student-teacher interaction in the courses you sign up for online, and you will better your chances of getting the most out of your elearning experience.

Source:
"Student Satisfaction Depends on Course Structure." Online Cl@ssroom. February 2004.