What Are Online Courses?

An online course is a series of classes, assignments, and lectures pertaining to a specific topic. It is designed to provide you with the ability to increase your knowledge and expertise about a certain subject matter. The curriculum and required coursework for online courses is typically no different from a class taught on a college campus. In general, you should plan on dedicating about three hours each week to class time, plus extra time for participating in classroom discussions using message boards with instructors and classmates, as well as study time to work on your assignments. The duration of a course depends greatly on the school and the field of study; one course can usually be completed in a period of five to twelve weeks.

An online course offers you the opportunity to take a course and learn from any location with an Internet connection. The majority of online courses are asynchronous; instructors and students do not meet together at the same time. Instead, you log into the online classroom at your convenience; however, your instructor will specify how frequently you are required to log into your online classroom and participate in discussions using the message boards. Schools offer courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as general courses open to all levels of students. Schools may also offer non-credit courses, which do not result in academic credit but simply offer a unique opportunity to learn a craft or explore a personal interest.

The workload and rigors of an online course are well suited for students who are able to work independently and stay on top of the coursework without the structure of a campus classroom. Online courses offer benefits such as convenience and flexibility, but to be successful, students need to possess maturity and self-discipline.