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Learning online

The page contains information that may be helpful to you in determining whether Elon's online t-dpt program is for you. Read from the top down, or choose from among the following topics:

Are you suited to online learning?
Profile of a successful online student
Tips for success
Technology skills required
Computer hardware and software requirements

Are you suited to online learning?

Typically, learning in an online enviroment entails at least as much work, if not more, than a face-to-face course that meets in a classroom. Students who do well in Web-based or other kinds of distance education courses tend to share some of the same personality characteristics. Specific computer-related skills and access to the necessary equipment are also important.

To see if a Web-based program is right for you, answer the following questions. Then follow the scoring instructions that appear after the last question.

  1. I realize that meeting course requirements and due dates and following the course schedule are critical to my success.
    ___ Yes ___ No
  2. I regularly have 10-20 hours each week to devote to coursework.
    ___ Yes ___ No
  3. I am an independent worker.
    ___ Yes ___ No
  4. I am self-motivated and can budget my time appropriately.
    ___ Yes ___ No
  5. I am resourceful at finding solutions to problems.
    ___ Yes ___ No
  6. I am willing to take the initiative in getting help when needed, even though it may be by phone or e-mail.
    ___ Yes ___ No
  7. I learn by reading course materials or viewing visual explanations.
    ___ Yes ___ No
  8. I am an excellent reader, and reading for extended periods does not bother me.
    ___ Yes ___ No
  9. I have the technical knowledge to create and upload Microsoft Office files, use e-mail, and manage other aspects of my personal computer.
    ___ Yes ___ No
  10. I feel confident using search engines and Web browsers.
    ___ Yes ___ No
  11. I feel confident in installing software and browser plug-ins or have someone available to help me.
    ___ Yes ___ No
  12. I will have access to a computer that meets the minimum standards.
    ___ Yes ___ No
  13. I currently have, or will have, a reliable ISP (Internet service provider) for my computer.
    ___ Yes ___ No

Scoring instructions:

Count the number of items for which you checked ‘Yes.’

If your score is 11 or higher, you may do quite well in an online program.

If your score is 9 or 10, you may be able to succeed in an online program, but you’ll probably need to make some adjustments to ensure this.

If your score is 8 or less, you may have some difficulty taking a Web-based course and should discuss your chances for success with program staff.

Profile of a successful online student

You can increase your chances of success in a Web-based program if you —

Tips for success

Set up a schedule. Set aside at least as much time for an online course as is required by a traditional, face-to-face course. That means no less than four hours per day for summer course! Make sure that you allot time for recreation and social activities. (You need to reward yourself for your hard work!) And follow your schedule.

Take breaks. Take breaks when studying. The average attention span for one task is approximately 20 minutes. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CRAM! Study small portions of material, take a break and then study some more. We retain a great deal more if we learn in small manageable portions than when we attempt to learn a great deal of information at once. Make these breaks mandatory. Even if you are enjoying your reading or studying, take some breaks. You do not want to get burned out.

Reward yourself. Reward yourself for studying, learning a difficult concept, or completing a project. Go to a movie, spend time with your friends, or do the things you put off in order to study. This reinforces your behavior. You are more likely to study again and concentrate if you know there is a reward at the end of completing a task.

Find a good, quiet location.  Where you study can influence your concentration and your study habits as well. Make sure you are comfortable, but not too comfortable. Sitting at a desk is preferable to lying in bed. Seeking a quiet well-lit study area is equally important. A radio blaring in the background, a stereo blaring next door, and the sounds of an interesting conversation are but a few of the factors that can disturb a study area.

Eliminate the obvious distractions.  Some of the more common distractions are telephone calls or friends and family stopping by to chat. Put away the newspapers, magazines, and unfinished projects. Once you become aware of these simple distractions, you can eliminate them and improve your study skills.

Communicate with your instructors. If you feel that you are falling behind, contact your instructor(s) to keep the lines of communication open. They can't "see" that you are having difficulty with a particular topic or experiencing something important in your life. Your instructors want you to be successful and communicating early and often with them is one way to ensure success.

Technology skills required

To be successful in this program, basic computer skills are required. You should be able to:

    • Operate a computer (e.g, open and save files, launch Internet Explorer)
    • Operate a word processor; preferably, use Microsoft Word
    • Use a Web browser (e.g., Internet Explorer), and
    • Send and receive e-mail and deal with attachments

During the on-campus Program Orientation, hands-on instruction will be provided for Blackboard, the Web-based course management software used to deliver the t-DPT courses.

Computer hardware and software requirements and Internet access

Check the following list to ensure that you have the necessary computer equipment and resources to participate in the t-dpt program.

Internet service provider — To take a Web-based course, you must have a reliable ISP (Internet service provider). You must be able to connect to the Internet by the date your cohort begins the program. A high-speed connection (cable modem, DSL or LAN) is desirable, but a 33.6 or 56K modem may be used.

Computer hardware — You will need regular access to an IBM-type or Macintosh personal computer. We recommend that your computer meet or exceed the following standards:

  1. A reliable Pentium-class PC or Mac with a 200 MHz or faster processor
  2. 64MB or more RAM (random access memory)
  3. A sound card and speakers
  4. A CD-ROM drive, 24X or faster
  5. A modem, 33.6 K or faster; alternatives are DSL, ISDN or network connections to the Internet
  6. A printer
  7. Note: If you are purchasing a new computer, you may wish to note the recommendations listed at

Computer software — The following software should be installed on your computer:

  1. For Windows computers, Microsoft Office XP Professional*
    For Macintosh computers, either Microsoft Office v. X* (for Macs running OS X) or Microsoft Office 2001* (for Macs running OX 8.1-9.x)
  2. A standard e-mail client
  3. A virus protection package
  4. A Web browser, preferably current version of Microsoft Internet Explorer**
  5. The latest versions of the following free browser plug-ins: Adobe Acrobat Reader, Apple QuickTime, Macromedia Shockwave and Flash, Real Networks Real Player, and Windows Media Player
  6. *This software will provided to students at no charge during the on-campus program orientation, if needed.

    **Some browsers do not work properly with Blackboard. We suggest you use the current version of Microsoft Internet Explorer.

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