After reviewing a slew of feedback from people taking online courses for the first time, one of the common themes was they wished they had known how much learning they would do on their own. Although it is purely anecdotal at this point, it does reinforce what many of us pursuing degrees from predominately-online universities always knew: This is a lot of work.
For people working full-time jobs, raising a family, or serving overseas, pursuing a degree online is the only option for furthering their education. It can be easy for them to envy folks living at or near a university campus, walking to class, and seemingly receiving spoon-fed information on their concentration. However, folks switching from brick and mortar to online schooling have noticed something crucial–you should expect to learn on your own.
That means that while online, you will need to read and dissect the books on your own. While some teachers offer video recordings or even Skype sessions for their lessons, these are rare. A student must do his own research and analysis, and then receive judgment and correction based on message board posts, essays, quizzes, tests, and research papers. What sets the experience apart is an online student typically has to produce something every week to demonstrate he is progressing, as opposed to cramming for a midterm halfway through the course. This of course requires that the online student learn on his own.
[see also: Reading for Clarity in Assignments]
That is a good thing. Consider that schools should be preparing students with the skills they will need to pursue their degrees, as well as trying to achieve the next step in their careers. What better skill can a student acquire than that of learning on their own?
Online Learning Tips, Student Contributor