How well would distance learning courses fit your circumstances and lifestyle? Circle an answer for each question and score as directed below. Students who tend to be most successful are those individuals who are self-directed and self-motivated in their learning and study habits. Answer honestly–no one will see this but you!
(This questionnaire is adapted from “Are Telecourses for me?” from PBS-Adult Learning Service, The Agenda, Spring 1994 and modified for the more modern web conferencing-based distance learning)
1. My need to take this course now is:
a) High–I need it immediately for a specific goal
b) Moderate–I could take it on campus later or substitute another course
c) Low–It could be postponed.
2. Feeling that I am part of a class is:
a) Not particularly necessary to me
b) Somewhat important to me
c) Very important to me.
3. I would classify myself as someone who:
a) Often gets things done ahead of time.
b) Needs reminding to get things done on time.
c) Puts things off until the last minute or doesn’t complete them.
4. Classroom discussion is:
a) Rarely helpful to me.
b) Sometimes helpful to me.
c) Almost always helpful to me.
5. When an instructor hands out directions for an assignment, I prefer:
a) Figuring out the instructions myself.
b) Trying to follow the directions on my own, then asking for help as needed.
c) Having the instructions explained to me.
6. I need instructor comments on my assignments:
a) Within a few weeks, so I can review what I did.
b) Within a few days, or I forget what I did.
c) Right away, or I get very frustrated.
7. Considering my professional and personal schedule, the amount of time I have to work on a distance learning course is:
a) More than enough for an on-campus course.
b) The same as for a class held on campus.
c) Less than for a class held on campus.
8. Coming to campus on a regular schedule is:
a) Extremely difficult for me–I have commitments (work, family or personal) during times when classes are offered.
b) A little difficult, but I can rearrange my priorities to allow for regular attendance on campus.
c) Easy for me.
9. As a reader, I would classify myself as:
a) Good–I usually understand the text without help.
b) Average–I sometimes need help to understand the text.
c) Slower than average.
10. When I need help understanding the subject:
a) I am comfortable approaching an instructor to ask for clarification.
b) I am uncomfortable approaching an instructor, but do it anyway.
c) I never approach an instructor to admit I don’t understand something.
Add 3 points for each “a” that you circled, 2 points for each “b” and 1 for each “c”. If you scored 20 or more, a distance learning course is a real possibility for you. If you scored between 11 and 20, distance learning courses may work for you, but you will need to make a few adjustments in your schedule and study habits to succeed. If you scored 10 or less, distance learning currently may not be the best alternative for you; talk to your counselor.
There were some suggestions about typical limiting factors in being successful with distance learning. These included:
• A compelling reason to undertake a course helps keep the student on the course.
• Some students simply don’t like the independence of distance learning.
• The greater freedom in scheduling one’s work and time means that considerably more self-discipline is required.
• Distance learning can limit the amount of interaction and some students like this.
• Distance learning requires more attention to working from written directions.
• Comments can take time to come back from instructors–sometimes up to three weeks.
• Distance learning is not a short cut but can require considerably more effort to succeed in.
• Because of their myriad of commitments, distance learners find it difficult to come to campus.
• Print materials can be the primary source of direction.