5 Questions To Ask When Taking An Online Course

Aria Miller
Published by Aria Miller
Last Updated On: December 8, 2021

With the recent happenings going on in the world, online learning has become increasingly popular, with both young and old students. In turn, an influx of online courses has become readily available to almost anyone with internet access.

Despite the popularity, online classes are relatively new, so it is only natural to have questions.

To ensure you choose the right online education for you, we have searched forums far and wide to answer all the burning questions online students may have.

5 Questions Students Commonly Ask

So, what questions should I ask before taking an online course?

Let's take a look at the following questions some online students may face:

1. Can I take a class at my own pace, or do I have to stick to a schedule?

A calendar page

Depending on which degree program you choose, both options are available.

Many students enrolled in online colleges apply simply for the flexibility it allows.

Unlike a traditional classroom, self-paced courses allow the students to finish their online coursework in their own time.

As long as you hit the required amount of hours, you can take the lessons at your own speed.

Scheduled courses (also referred to as Real-Time Virtual - RTV) reflect a traditional learning management system. Just like a typical classroom, you’ll have to be in class at a set time with the professor and other students [1].

These scheduled online courses will have a much stricter and structured system. They may also call for group work and presentations, which may help motivate students to keep up with online classes.

So, which is right for you?

If you enjoy the flexibility, or maybe you’re a full-time mum or a part-time worker, self-paced courses are better for you. These course types are also good for students who struggle with anxiety and would like to avoid in-class interactions.

If you’re looking for an experience closer to a campus degree, scheduled courses are the better option. Scheduled courses are also good for students who have trouble setting their own schedules and learning better in a group environment.

Read More: How Much Time Do You Need to Study Daily for An Online Course?

2. Does the school offer the same support as a campus class?

A student holding a stack of books

A good online college or university will offer the same support and services a traditional school will offer, just in different ways.

Since you won't be able to attend campus libraries in person, online programs offer digital libraries.

You may also be put in contact with research librarians via email or phone.

Other services like tutoring, careers, and academic advice will be available via video call or email.

Instructors or teachers should also be reasonably available to answer any questions or concerns you may have about the online degree.

Furthermore, some online schools offer additional services such as counseling, financial aid, and legal advice. If you’re wondering if your selected online degrees offer these services, they should be found on the school’s website.

Read More: How Instructors Can Help Students Succeed In an Online Course

3. What technical skills and requirements do I need?

A short haired woman thinking hard

Unless you’re taking a course that requires a set amount of technical skills, online learning management systems are made with everyone in mind.

They’re designed to be as user-friendly as possible.

This will include clear instructions, simple controls, and available tutorials.

If you have no knowledge of technology whatsoever, this may be a little difficult for you. However, basic computer skills will suffice.

You will need to know how to do the following things:

  • Use a keyboard and a mouse
  • Opening computer programs
  • Navigate the internet
  • Send and receive emails
  • Navigate programs such as word and excel

Any additional programs your school provides during online classes should be given with clear instructions. If you are struggling, you should always contact the support adviser.

Materials are often available to help prospective students obtain these basic skills.

When it comes to technical requirements, learners should have the following:

  • A keyboard
  • High-speed internet
  • A computer that can run education software
  • Microphone and webcam (for RTV classes)
  • Printer and/or scanner (optional)
  • Tablet or smartphone (for learning on the go.)

Selected universities may offer to lend these resources to students who can not afford them. Other schools may give financial aid to help cover the costs.

If you’re curious about your particular online program, all information should be listed on the school website.

4. Which online program is right for me?

Clicking the search button

Choosing online programs isn’t a walk in the park, and it takes a lot of time and research.

One of the main things students have to figure out is their learning style. Students interact with online education differently, no matter the course, goal, or technical skill.

If you’re having trouble choosing from your list of online schools, some actually offer short trials and assessments to determine whether they’re the right fit.

Online students can speak to the higher education board who can help clarify certain requirements and expectations.

5. Is online school as effective as traditional school?

Person using a laptop

Recent studies show that over 77% of teachers believe that online learning is equal or even superior to traditional learning [2].

The difference with online education is simply the medium that requires students to learn.

Other than that, the education put forward should take the same effort and ability.

Some online students may claim their quality of education has risen.

They can decide how much time they put in and where they choose to complete their assignments.

An online teaching instructor should be equally as qualified as an in-person instructor. The assignments and materials should be equally fulfilling.

While the freedom advantage online classes allow, it can also be a downfall for some students.

A student who struggles with self-motivation or finds it difficult to complete assignments alone may thrive better in a team environment.

A student who only wishes to connect with their teacher on their terms may have great success in their online education.

The learning style of said students is what really determines whether or not online learning is effective.

Read More:

Is Online Education Right For Me?

While online education is a great option for many students, not all are cut out for it. If you choose to take an e-class, you have to be prepared to work on your own agenda and motivate yourself.

Once you’re confident you’ve answered all the questions and thought about the possible outcomes, only then should you decide if online education is right for you.


  1. https://my.davenport.edu/academics/academic-support-services/real-time-virtual-learning-rtv
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/brandonbusteed/2019/03/05/online-education-from-good-to-better-to-best

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