Barriers to online learning (and how to overcome them!)
Online learning can have many barriers—at Athabasca University, we’re ready to help you overcome them! These are some of the most common obstacles that online learners face, and how you can conquer them with ease:
Barrier #1: Poor time management
While the flexibility of online programs is excellent for those who have a lot on their plate, the absence of a rigid structure has some people scrambling. Ward off procrastination by building a study/assignment schedule, so that you maximize your time and hit your deadlines with ease.
Barrier #2: Lack of motivation
Online courses are a lot of work, and sometimes it’s hard to know exactly how you’re doing. Don’t hesitate to ask your professors and tutors about your progress throughout the course, and prevent isolation and disengagement by fostering a community with your peers. Motivation is hard to maintain when you don’t have to face your instructors in person, so get a friend or family member to check in on you and hold you accountable for your work. Breaking down course information into chunks can also help make the work seem less overwhelming and thus keep you motivated to complete it!
Barrier #3: Administrative issues
Frustration in online learning often stems from students not knowing how or when to contact their professors/tutors, along with poor communication about coursework expectations. The solution? If you’re confused about an assignment/test and you aren’t getting a timely response from your professors, tutors, or other academic resources, turn to your classmates for help! Through chat rooms and discussion threads, you’re sure to find a peer that is going through the same thing and can provide much-needed clarity.
Barrier #4: Technical issues
Though the internet is a wonderful and necessary resource for online learners, it can also cause problems. Without a strong internet connection or high bandwidth, online learning becomes nearly impossible, and keeping up with technical requirements of a chosen course can be stressful. The best way to combat this is to prep way in advance; by assuring that you have basic computer literacy (including fundamental knowledge of computer hardware), familiarize yourself with the programs you’ll be using most often, and know what support to look for when technical issues arise, you will be better equipped to complete your studies successfully! Don’t be afraid to seek help from the IT Department, as there are many resources available to you should you need to access them.
Barrier #5: Cost
Though online university is usually much more affordable than traditional school fees (LearnDash estimates savings of up to $20,000 after one year!) paying for your education is still a challenge. Thankfully, many online universities like AU have “pay-as-you-go” programs; you pay for each course only when you register for it, and course fees include all textbooks, class materials, and access to a tutor or success centre. There’s no formal timeline to complete most AU credentials, so if time isn’t a concern, you can take your classes as you can afford them, and you may be able to complete your education with little student debt. However, if meeting your personal goals means a faster pace and a heavier financial commitment, there are financial aid options available to support your online studies.
At Athabasca University, our slogan is “Open. Flexible. Everywhere.”, and we deliver just that. As a world-class leader in online and distance education, AU is dedicated to providing you with opportunities to pursue your personal interests and professional needs without having to sacrifice your family, career, or community commitments. Set your study hours and work at the time and place that best suits your lifestyle. You are in control of your education!