Ways to Make Online Classes Work

health care online

Online learning is a new frontier in education. It’s especially new at Concorde, where we’re just recently beginning to incorporate more health care online learning into a couple of our programs. Currently, Concorde’s Bachelor’s in Health Care Administration, for students who already are licensed Respiratory Therapists, and its Surgical Technology Degree Completion Program are the only 100 percent online courses. Other programs, such as Pharmacy Technician, are blended to include an online component.

Because online learning still is relatively new, it’s often difficult for students to know how to correctly approach it to optimize the chances at success. How do you schedule your time? What steps can you take to avoid procrastination? How do you deal with the loneliness that comes with health care online learning? And, of course, what do you when the technology fails?

To answer these questions and more, we asked Nikki Fox-Boelte, Concorde’s Dean of Online Operations, who has been involved with distance learning for more than 10 years as a learner, educator and manager, to state the biggest challenges she sees for students.

They assume that because health care Online is flexible, it means a whenever/wherever type format

That is not the case. Online education is much like a job. We must dedicate certain days and hours of those days to get into our classroom(s), review what is upcoming, make a plan of preparation/attack, research, participate and ultimately submit our work. If a student falls more than two weeks behind in an Online class, their chances of success decrease significantly. Students need to plan on what a regular ground class would be (typically 3-4 ½ hours), then add at least 9 hours each class for outside work including, but not limited to, research, composing essays, studying, etc.

Technology fails

Murphy’s Law is the No. 1 culprit when students wait until the last minute to do work. Before a student enrolls, while they are going through the admissions process, and up to the first day of class, students should always have a back-up plan for when technology fails. What is the plan for Wi-Fi going out? For coffee spilling on our laptop? For the library closing early? Relying on a friend or family member for back-up is not the best plan.

Out of sight

Students forget there is a human being monitoring and instructing their class. There always should be an open line of communication to our instructors and that communication should be proactive, not reactive. Much of what I have seen is last minute, or after the due date, email asking for an extension or leniency. This puts the instructor in a difficult spot. Students need to keep in contact with their instructor/professor, but ultimately the accountability is on the student to understand the policies of the school, that all professors are beholden to uphold.

All alone

Students often do not use the resources that are provided to them. Whether it’s a free writing lab, live chat session, templates to help with APA style, online library resources, or more supportive services like an instructor, tutor, student advisor, etc., students need to familiarize themselves with all available to them. No school enrolls a student in hopes they will fail. As an educator, our sole purpose is to support and advocate for our students and their success. Many of those supports come in the form of resources that students don’t take advantage of, or take the time to learn about what success tools they have at their fingertips.

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