6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Take an Online Math Course
Many students decide to take online classes but there are some questions to ask yourself before you decide to do this for a math class.
We have to understand that some courses lend themselves better to an online environment than others. I have taken Anatomy and Physiology, Sociology, Human Resource Management and other Education courses in an online environment. By far, the content of these courses lent itself very well to the online environment. They were all information driven courses.
Mathematics is a horse of a different color.
Mathematics is skill-based. You are constantly learning a skill and then applying it. For example, if you learn how to solve equations, then you will be solving equations in various situations.
Question 1: Can you handle receiving information without a live demonstration?
You will need to have to view lectures, power-points or some other visual demonstration of the processes and this will most likely occur online or asynchronously instead of synchronously. When you learn asynchronously, the instructor is not live or online when you are viewing the lecture. If it is synchronous, the instructor has announced a live session and you are given information to and it won’t be live more than likely. A lot of students are not prepared for this reality. Some schools or instructors offer live tutorial sessions or live demonstrations but many do not provide this. Some schools require students to attend these live demonstrations but most do not have this requirement. If you are a person who needs a live demonstration, then an online math class is not for you unless it offers live demonstrations. If that course does offer live demonstrations, then you have to attend them and this is a non-negotiable. Clear your schedule and make it happen. If you don’t do this and begin to struggle, then that is the first thing that your instructor is going to require of you. Be prepared that you must deal with the reality that you are in an asynchronous environment unless they have live classes. If you are a person who needs a live demonstration, then taking an online math class is just not going to sit well with you.
Question 2: Can you study on your own by reading the chapters, working the examples and viewing the power-point or video lectures?
Online classes are set up to be either synchronous or asynchronous. When a class is synchronous, the professor is generally online at a specific day or time for the purpose of providing live instruction. Those times are generally announced ahead of time and occur on a weekly basis or more frequently. This happens a lot when a class is a hybrid course. In a hybrid course, there is some live instruction that occurs on a regular basis such as weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. If you are in a class that is asynchronous, the instructor may not offer any live chats or demonstration at all or that person may do them and upload the recordings. You pretty much proceed through the information without a lot of direct help. If you know that you need a live person working through the examples, then you need to enroll in a class that is face to face.
Question 3: Do you have at least 3 hours daily that you can devote to studying and even more on the weekends?
Time management is a big issue in online courses because you have to be disciplined enough to complete the work on your own and adhere to deadlines. Managing the time you have is one thing but the time must still be available to be managed. Many people are simply over-committed and over-scheduled. For example, I got an email from one student who emailed me because she was taking five classes and working two jobs and could not stay on track with her assignments. She simply did not have enough time to do her work in so many courses. You cannot be over-committed in terms of work responsibilities and be a full time online student.
Question 4: Are you organized enough to keep track of weekly assignments?
With an online course, you will have weekly assignments that are due by the end of that week. Most instructors will allow some leeway with being late while others will not allow any late assignments. Be sure that you can handle the stress of having a weekly due date.
One of the unfortunate things about our instantaneous microwave age is that we expect things instantly. This is why IM is such a hit; we want to get an answer and, I mean, right now. We want everything done very quickly. In short, we don't like process. Here is what you have to keep in mind: your instructor may not be available to answer your question instantly. Is that going to freak you out??
Question 5. Can you handle not being able to obtain immediate assistance?
Sometimes you may have a question to which you cannot find the answer on your own. You may email your instructor but that person may not be able to give you the answer immediately due to their own schedule. Some people are too impatient and want the answer NOW. If you know that you are one of these people, you are going to have to develop the art of patience.
Question 6. Can you silence your math anxiety or at least handle your math anxiety in order to persevere through tough moments in the class?
You have to become aware of when your math anxiety is overtaking you and blocking your learning. If you have fear, fear will block your learning. There are times when fear is helpful but this is not one of those times!
You have to learn some strategies for dealing with anxiety. I tell students to journal out the past experience. Respond to the experience as an adult would if you were a child when it happened. When you hear that inner critic, respond in a positive way. Tell yourself you can do this. Tell yourself that you can pass the course. No one rises to low expectations.