Three months into taking my master's and I am encountering several difficulties of studying for an online degree. It’s a tough world – the online education arena – and it’s not a place for those who are easily distracted. People who say that studying via an online platform is easy are ignorant of what online students face. Here are the current difficulties of studying for an online degree that I am facing:
1 Juggling Work, Family and School
I decided to study my master's online because I have 15-months-old twins whom I can’t bear to leave in the hands of nannies. I reckoned that perhaps I could manage being a mother, wife, student, and employee at the same time. It’s a tough balancing act! Working professionals who are also studying know all too well that the difficulties of studying for an online degree are often caused by too many tasks to fulfill at home and at work.
2 More Materials to Read
You think online education is about using Facebook and typing your comments in a chat box? Think again. One of my subjects on Theories and Principles in Second Language Acquisition requires reading eight books within one semester. I read 200 to 300 pages every week for just one subject and I am expected to participate in a graded discussion forum every week. Not. At. All. Easy.
3 More Materials to Print
If you’re like me and can only absorb/understand what you're reading if it's on paper, then you are in for semester after semester of printing modules and reading materials. I learned eventually that having a tablet is handier and more economical. While I still print some materials these days, I don’t spend as much money for paper and ink as before.
4 Feels Impersonal
Sure it is convenient but at some point, it does feel impersonal. Unless you become truly chummy with all your classmates and talk to them via Skype, the only time you communicate with them is during discussion forums (which are required). There is a different energy in being in a classroom and interacting with your classmates in the flesh than there is when you're just reading their thoughts in a discussion thread.
5 Technological Glitches
You submitted your paper on the stipulated deadline and you thought everything was fine. You took off for a much needed vacation and then you got a text message telling you that you failed to submit your term paper. You replied: “But I submitted it already last (insert date and time).” Instructor’s reply: “There might be a technological glitch. Please send again.” Lesson learned: Send emails to yourself and don’t forget to attach files just in case…
6 Battle versus Procrastination
Online learning or distance education is about learning at your own pace. Compared to a classroom environment where there is much pressure to learn at almost the same speed, online learning gives you more flexibility to read your materials whenever you feel like it (granting that you are within the set timetable). It is very flexible but there is also a higher probability of procrastinating since you don’t fear being called on in class to recite Chapter 3 Section 5.
7 Delayed Feedback
I still like looking at the face of my professor when my classmate dishes out his or her opinion about the political nature of the Communist Party. You can see feedback from facial expressions and body language. In distance learning though, you have to wait some time for your professors to post their comments and feedback.
Anyone else out there who experienced the same difficulties?
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