Q&A: Why Do Online Schools Make Students Take an Introductory Course?

Answer: This is a great question. Most schools/colleges do require online students to take an introductory course with the purpose of preparing them for the online learning experience. Typically, these courses will walk students through the virtual classroom, familiarizing them with the various applications and web tools they'll be using to complete coursework and communicate with their instructor and peers.

During this orientation, students may also gain an overview of the school's programs and resources, learn study skills and figure out how to set and achieve academic goals. Let's address this a little closer. School programs consist of the degrees and/or certificates that can be earned at the school. Depending on the size of the school, there may be several programs in various areas offered. Often, smaller schools tend to focus on one area, such as medical careers or other vocational/technical careers.

Many online schools have great resources available to students. These resources may range from academic and financial advising to tutoring and library services. Either way, it's important for students to know whom to contact when they have questions about classes and payment. It's equally important to know where to order books and how to access other materials for assignments (i.e. research articles, etc.). Some schools do offer online editing assistance or tutoring services. This may consist of submitting your work and receiving guidance on writing or scheduling a "live" time to meet online with a tutor to ask questions.

At most schools, online students are expected to dedicate time to reading, researching and doing school work. This may include quizzes, tests or research papers, all of which take time to prepare and/or complete successfully. As a teacher, I encourage students to look at school like a job. If you are focused and work hard, you can earn high grades and, hopefully, begin a rewarding career after graduate. Introductory courses often include information about time management, organization and study skills. All of these are imperative to being a successful student and managing other responsibilities in life.

Dr. Beverley BrowningDr. Beverly A. Browning (Dr. Bev) has been a higher education adjunct faculty member for over 25 years. She has taught in the classroom and online for multiple colleges and universities including the Spring Arbor College, Baker College of Flint, Mott Community College, and Rio Salado College. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Spring Arbor College and Mott Community College. She is currently an online instructor for ed2go.com (Cengage Learning). In addition to founding and directing the Grant Writing Training Foundation, Dr. Bev is also Vice President of Grants Professional Services for eCivis, Inc. She is the author over over 37 grant-related publications and a frequent keynote speaker and workshop presenter for national and regional conferences. Dr. Bev is a product of lifelong learning and an advocate for online teaching and learning!