Going Back To (Online) School

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Our world is increasingly moving online. Many everyday functions are available through the click of a mouse or a tap on a screen. This includes how we learn, with online education (also called “distance education”) playing an even bigger role in the life of the modern student.

Many traditional education providers, including universities and K-12 institutions, are implementing learning management systems (LMS), such as Blackboard or Schoolology, to provide enrolled students access to a host of online-based courses. Recently, a number of massive open online course (MOOC) sites, like edX and Udacity, have emerged.

Despite the many advantages to using an online learning system, a number of challenges face today’s Web-based students and teachers, particularly in terms of technology. Technical issues with online courses can translate into frustration, class failures and student dropouts. Whether you’re studying with an institution that uses an LMS or you’re enrolled in a MOOC, get the most out of your online education by following these helpful troubleshooting tips. 

  1. Invest in the right technology. Students and educators agree that most of the major technical issues encountered in online learning come from not having the proper devices and Internet connection. The Washington Post recommends avoiding technical problems by using a machine manufactured within the last two years that has as much memory and processor speed as possible. Other helpful devices include printers, webcams and headsets.

  2. Do a practice run. Before the class starts, make sure your device works with all of the online tools and that you know how to navigate them. This ensures you don’t waste valuable class time trying to troubleshoot technical issues.
  3. Keep file sizes small. Not all Internet connections are created equal and some may not have the bandwidth to support the download of large files.
  4. Make sure your institution provides 24-7 technical support. This should be a critical factor when choosing which course to take. Many online education providers offer troubleshooting guides, real-time chat and user forums to help students and teachers navigate issues or glitches. Listed below are links to help resources from some of the top online education platforms.

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