There really isn’t a single definition of online training. While some corporations rely on videoconferencing to simply allow trainers to speak to people in several locations at once, schools have pushed the boundaries of online teaching much further, with better technologies to bring students together with teachers, and with each other.
The two most basic terms used as definitions of online training are:
In this type of class, the teacher will give you a series of assignments and tests that are due at a certain date. You can do the work gradually or in one big push – as long as it’s completed by the deadline (tests in such classes are “open book”). Doing well in an asynchronous course requires discipline.
This type of course is bit closer to traditional class learning. It means that you, your fellow students and your professor will all go online at specific times for online chats. Some synchronous courses are done through “webinars,” where students log in to watch a presentation on their computers and listen to the teacher either via the web or over the telephone. Some, but not all webinars allow students to speak back to the professor by typing questions into a box on the webinar site.
The reading materials for courses are often placed online for free access, though some courses will require you to buy textbooks. Science classes sometimes stretch the definition of online training by having students conduct actual lab experiments in their kitchens or garages!
Other hybrid definitions of online training have gradually crept into e-schools. Some students, for instance, now attend an occasional course in the class in order to meet the professor live. Others rely heavily on instant messaging or e-mail to work closely with other students – even those who may be half a world away.
Other keys to consider when considering online training:
- Is the school accredited? Any distance learning degree that’s not from an accredited school won’t be taken seriously by employers. Learn more about online accredited courses
- Do you have the right technology? Online classes require only a basic computer in most cases, but it’s a good idea to check if anything more is needed for the particular online college courses you’re signing up for.
- Although many schools don’t require it, you probably want to upgrade to a cable or DSL (broadband) connection. Dial-up internet access is a real pain in the neck when you start to do your learning online.
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