For those who grew up commuting to a campus every day, the online experience might be a shock. They don’t know the difference between a PC or a Mac and are all but clueless about Explorer, Firefox or Linux. If you ask them what kind of software or if they have Wi-Fi and they’ll give you a glazed look. As for streaming videos? Well, that’s great for YouTube, but taking classes with them is a completely alien concept. Still, they know if they continue their education, their ability to advance in this tough economy increases dramatically. They just don’t have a clue, or the confidence, about doing it online.
For starters, online colleges have now been at it for several decades. Over this time they’ve learned how to make accessing their resources as easy as possible for their students, and are more than willing to help. One of the ways they do this is by simplifying their procedures and how class work is done. This includes one’s hardware and software. Whatever computer you use should have a modem that has DSL or Wi-Fi. This is standard for any computer, even refurbished ones, out today. Their sites are also readily accessible to any online service you care to use, whether it’s America Online, ATT Universe or MSN. It also doesn’t matter if your system is PC or Mac.
Probably the most important thing is that all virtual schools use a “course management system“, “learning management system” or “virtual learning environment”. The main ones are Blackboard, eCollege and Moodle. All these programs are quite intuitive and the school will teach you how to navigate it. Another thing is that all lessons are written with two main word processing systems, Microsoft Word and Adobe. You can tell which is which by the extension on any file. If the file ends with “.Doc,” it’s Word. If it ends with “PDF,” then it’s Adobe. All PC’s come with Word unless you specifically refuse it. Adobe is free to download. Just don’t be surprised if you do crack open an honest-to-goodness book. They still come in handy.
The one thing that online classes do have way over brick-and-mortar schools is its utilization of streaming video and audio podcasts. This is where DSL, Wi-Fi or something similar, becomes important. You need that kind of speed if you want to read your lessons at a proper pace. Slower modems will feel like they take forever. Maybe online school seems something completely alien to a person who never studied at home. At the same time, these institutions have made the software and hardware of virtual learning so easy anyone who now goes on Facebook should have no problem picking it all up. With more and more people going back to school so they can advance in the labor force, online college has had the foresight to make accessing them as easy as possible.