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What is the Course of Study (COS) Online?

Advantages of Online Study 

In the traditional classroom, most students expect to be taught by a content expert who lectures for a good portion of the class. This content expert has come to be called the sage on the stage by those writing in the field of online education. The sage on the stage is the focus of the classroom attention, and the student strives to learn as much as possible from the instructor. If dialog takes place in the classroom, it is usually between the instructor and the student. Rarely is it between one student and another.

In the online ecology a great deal of the learning process comes from within the learning community as students reflect upon the course material and share their thoughts with other students. The instructor in the online class is often referred to as a facilitator or as some have called him/her, a guide on the side. The facilitator guides the flow of the class and enables the students to learn from each other in a collaborative manner.

What does this mean to the online student?

First, the online learner must realize that there will be a difference in how learning takes place and what their role is in the learning process. In a traditional class a student may walk into class, sit in the back of the classroom, and offer very little to the contribution to the class. They may have listened and taken notes, but the rest of the class and the professor have very little awareness of how much they have learned or how much they know about the topic. They may have prepared for the class, but again that may not be evident to anyone else in the class. The evaluation of the student will take place during the exams or through papers and assignments.

In the online class it is important to realize that every student sits on the front row, and actively participates in all aspects of the class. As a result students must adequately prepare for the class in order to participate. Evaluation of the students understanding of the material is based upon their regular involvement rather than on a final examination or through research papers.

To be a successful online learner requires the student to be active, creative, and engaged in the entire learning process. One of the great benefits that students have in the online class is the amount of time available for reflection and response. Whereas in a classroom the instructor may pose a question and an answer is expected immediately, in the online environment a student may think about the question, research it, and reflect upon the best way to answer before sending the answer to the classroom. Students who tend to be more introverted will find a new freedom in class participation.

We have found that the successful online students are those who are self-disciplined and highly motivated to learn. Successful online students have an ability to work alone and demonstrate good thinking and reflection skills.