Online classes time expectations

by Dr. David M. Phillips, Vice President for Enrollment Services and Online Education, Nazarene Bible College

     Sometimes students misunderstand what is meant by the "flexibility of online classes."
     Flexibility is a strong selling point for online education. Students don't need to drive to a location once, twice or three times a week to attend class. School work can be done after the kids go to bed. It can be done in the middle of the night. Or it can be done early in the morning. If you want to go to class in your pajamas, nobody is going to know or care. The flexibility of online classes allows for a student who has an emergency to make up the work the next day.
     However, flexibility does not . . .

     Here's the basic assumption: A student in a traditional college class is expected to spend 10 hours in class for every quarter hour of credit. It is also expected that for every hour in class, a student will spend two hours reading, studying and doing assignments. Thus, for every course's "hour" of credit, a student will devote about thirty hours to that course. For a four-hour course this amounts to 120 hours. In a traditional on-campus course this is spread over the ten weeks of class. Thus, the weekly commitment for one course would be about 12 hours. Since NBC's online classes are only six weeks long, a student should plan to give 20 hours a week to a course. (It could be a little more or less depending upon how fast you read and how fast your fingers are on the keyboard.)
     To make sure you find the time for your online course, set aside 5-6 hours of time twice a week as "school" time. Protect these times for study and course work, just as you would scheduled class times in a traditional program. Don't let other activities encroach on your study times.
     You can set these study blocks whenever you want. That's why this program has flexibility. You, however, must develop your own consistent pattern. Along with significant blocks of time for reading and writing, you should set aside an hour or two each day to "connect", to read notes, and to respond to classmates and to the instructor.
     You can choose any time of day, but we recommend that you keep it consistent. If you do it in the morning, do it every morning. If you do it after the kids go to bed, do it every night at that same time.
     By developing good time management and proper study habits, your online educational program will bring you ever greater fulfillment.

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