It seems like an obvious statement, but an online course will require your time. Yet, a common misconception among prospective students is online learning requires less time than a brick and mortar class. The reality is you will save time in some areas, but spend more time in others.
Yes, there are time savers. The beauty of an online course is you can do it on your time with deadlines throughout the week. You also do not have to travel to be at a desk. However, you will spend time in other areas you did not expect.
First, you will spend time writing. Instead of speaking with your fellow students, you must write. Virtually all online courses require message board interaction. For an undergraduate course, this typically involves one post, answering some question from the teacher, followed by four responses to other students. The initial post is usually 300 words with at least 250-word responses to students. In an eight-week course, that comes to 1,300 words a week at a minimum and 10,400 words for the whole course, and that is just with student responses. In addition, many teachers require several three to five page essays, an essay midterm and final, and an eight to ten page research paper. There are courses that require weekly essays.
Second, any extra interaction you have will require more writing. Without being in a desk with the teacher, you miss the opportunity to blurt out your questions. Instead, you must put everything in emails or message board posts.
Third, you will spend plenty of time learning on your own. Many teachers provide PowerPoint presentations along with the required reading, but expect to do plenty of self-motivated learning.
When considering online learning, do not think of it as a way to save time, but instead a way to spend more time writing and learning as opposed to traveling to and from school.
Online Learning Tips, Student Contributor