Online graduate courses are a great option for busy teachers who want to pursue a master’s degree or additional credentialing, but who also have lessons to plan, papers to grade and errands to run for their families. You probably know, however, that not all online options are created equally. That’s why we’ve distilled the five most important questions to ask yourself before signing up for an online program.
- Does the course provide the credit I need?
Requirements vary from state to state, with some districts requiring that online programs be affiliated with a brick-and-mortar institution. We recommend double-checking your district’s guidelines. If you’re signing up for an individual course rather than a full degree program, it’s also a good idea to investigate whether the course will “count” if you decide to pursue a degree down the road.
- Will I be able to interact with the teacher and other students? How?
We’ve spoken with many teachers who say that the ability to interact with your fellow classmates is key to success in an online program. Some courses use online message boards to stay in touch; others take advantage of email lists and offline meet-ups. Ask your course provider how students communicate and ensure it’s a method with which you feel comfortable.
- Does the course fit my lifestyle and the demands of my career?
While online courses are typically more flexible than their in-person counterparts, you may still be obligated to “meet” with your instructor and/or fellow students at certain times each week or log in to an online portal for a predetermined number of hours. Some institutions offer weekend courses, so you may want to look for those if your weeknights are as harried as ours!
Of course, it’s also a good idea to preview the syllabus to see if you’ll be able to balance the required reading and writing with your own teaching commitments.
- Will my coursework be able to do double duty in the classroom?
If you’re going to be doing homework on top of your normal teaching duties, it helps if you can complete some of your assignments “in the field” with your students. We recommend asking if you can talk with a teacher who has already completed the course to see how much crossover there was with his or her classroom.
- Do I have a quiet space for study?
When you’re taking an online course, it can be tempting to say you’ll do your work “while the baby naps” or “while you’re supervising detention.” But even though you’re not in an actual classroom, it’s important to take the time and space you need for study and reflection. Otherwise you may feel disappointed with the investment of your time and money!
Feeling ready to pull the trigger? Right now, you can enter to win the online graduate course of your choice from Connecting Link. Click for details.