What do you expect from online learning?

Online classes are a little different from traditional in-person classes. You'll likely learn the same content material, but you'll likely do most of the work on your own, which means you need to be motivated and prepared to complete the work in your spare time. In the 800 student responses to our questions about their expectations for online learning, flexibility, choice and asynchronous experiences emerged as priorities. We also asked students about global connections, synchronous experiences, and how to make friends.

Student interest in each of these areas was strong, but less definitive than the three areas mentioned above. In each case, an overwhelming majority of students expected to feel connected to both their peers (83.17%) and their teachers (93.47%). Purely online classes don't require you to be online at any given time. However, there are due dates for various assignments and exams, so you'll need to be careful with your schedule.

A highly structured course may require something from you almost daily, while other classes will be more flexibly scheduled, allowing you greater flexibility as to when you should be online and when you should contribute to discussions, etc. You can also use other technologies such as telephone, mail electronic and text messages to do certain things in your classes. Everything is on the table in terms of how you interact, with the exception of traditional methods in the classroom. As teaching and learning technology improves, we'll experience more engaging ways to interact in online classes.

The online environment presents unique challenges and opportunities for both teachers and students when it comes to student engagement online. Effective online student design requires faculty to recalibrate their approach in light of the online student profile. Responses pointed to the need for online higher education programs to enable stronger and more diverse learning communities, as well as the need to equip faculty with the skills to develop and teach an online curriculum (or to teach in any environment, for that matter). You'll have direct access to abundant sources of information that will guide you in your ongoing development as an online instructor.

Online classes have technological benefits that allow teachers to use tools they may not have access to in a traditional classroom, so expect to learn new ways of doing and submitting assignments. In a crowded market, higher education institutions must create online learning that is differentiated, fits their core pedagogy, and provides an excellent student experience. You will find that developing a course with the online student profile in mind can improve student engagement and promote the development of self-motivated learning. She taught business communication at Arizona State University for 11 years while pioneering the online education space, but wanted to put more of her teaching into it.