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Readiness Quiz

Are online and blended courses for me?

Most students who take online or blended courses report that they enjoy the format more than a traditional face-to-face course that emphasizes lectures and testing. Almost all students who take online and blended courses appreciate the convenience and flexibility to adapt to individual work and family schedules.

We've identified four questions that you should ask yourself before you enroll in an online or blended course. Be honest with yourself and answer "yes" or "no" to the following questions to find out if blended courses are really for you.

Do you express yourself well in writing and have good reading skills? Reading and writing are more important than in a traditional face-to-face course.

  • You must be able to read others' writing - both your instructor's and your fellow students' - and understand what they mean.
  • You also have to be able to write clearly and concisely, with few grammatical or spelling errors.
  • You must be able to follow written directions to complete an assignment, and willing to ask questions when you don't understand what to do.

In other words, if you are not a good writer, or if you don't read well, you may not be a good candidate as a student in an online or blended course.

What type of computer and technical skills would I need to be successful in an online class?

UWM offers some technical support. Some faculty provide a brief online overview to help you get comfortable working online and to help you see what to expect. Some students with very little computer or technical skills have reported that the adjustment is easier than expected.

  • You should own a relatively recent computer, or be willing to use a computer workstation in the University computer laboratories or in the Public Library.
  • You should have a fast (broadband) connection, either through a cable modem, a DSL, or a "hardwired" campus or Public Library computer.
  • You should know enough about computers to be able to upload and download files to your course Web site, search and browse the Web, use email, and interact on a discussion forum or bulletin board.
  • You should be able to type (or keyboard) well, and be able to use basic programs such as a word processor. Some courses will require you to know how to use other computer programs such as Excel, PowerPoint, or Photoshop, so you should check out the course syllabus as early as possible to find out whether you will be able to meet the computer requirements.

How much time should I plan to spend in an online course?

You will do at least as much work in an online or blended course as in a regular traditional face-to-face course.

  • You must be prepared to schedule some time online several days each week. You should expect to login to the course Web site at least three times a week, and spend at least two to three hours doing online work. If your other responsibilities make this schedule impossible, you probably should not take an online or blended course.

Are you willing to take responsibility for your own learning as well as work collaboratively with your classmates and instructor?

Online and blended courses typically place significantly less emphasis on lecturing and exams.

  • This means that you must be prepared to do different kinds of work than you would do in a traditional face-to-face course. The work required may be more creative, may require more thought than simply memorizing material for testing purposes, and may ask you to demonstrate your understanding of the course ideas and concepts by applying them to real-world situations.
  • You may expect to be involved in small group collaborative work online. Teamwork is common in blended courses, and if you feel that you work better in isolation from others, you may not find the blended format suitable.

Results to your answers:

If you answered "yes" to all of these questions, then the online/blended style of learning is a real possibility for you. If you answered "no" to any of the questions, online/blended courses may work for you, but you may need to make a few adjustments in your schedule and study habits to succeed. Your instructor or advisor may be able to suggest means to improve your ability to succeed in online and blended learning.