What To Expect When You Sign Up For An Online Course

Ken Reimer, director of the University of New Brunswick’s UNB Online sees online learning and face-to-face classroom learning as “fundamentally equivalent, but different.”No matter where you live, or how busy your schedule, online courses allow you to work toward a credential at your convenience.

First time participants in online learning often have questions about how it all works and how online or e-learning differs from the traditional classroom experience.

Ken Reimer, director of the University of New Brunswick’s UNB Online sees the two as fundamentally equivalent, but different.

“Interacting with others face-to-face is a benefit to learning in a traditional classroom, but these days people are comfortable with making online connections. Many students consider online exchanges just as effective as meeting in person. Ten years ago, connecting with someone virtually may not have felt so real as it does today,” said Reimer.

Reimer and the staff at UNB Online are striving to increase the ‘engagement-factor’ of online learning, and they utilize a number of skills and tools to make this happen.

“Multimedia technology—graphics, animations, movies, sound files, streaming video, PowerPoint presentations, and such are used to create a dynamic environment for learning.”

There is opportunity for social interactions between student and instructor, as well as with fellow students.

“Learners often develop a rapport by exchanging personal info, photos, and their own personal web pages”.

There is consideration of various learning styles and learning needs.

“Activities are diverse and appeal to various personality types. There are activities where the student actually does a physical activity, rather than listening to a lecture or merely watching a demonstration. Active learning might also include discussions, chats, journals, case studies, interviews with experts in the field, and reporting on functions or activities completed,” said Reimer.

Communication and assessment are essential elements of learning and online learners can expect to receive, and give, feedback to both instructors and peers. Self-assessment and reflection are regular activities in an online environment.

Apart from the dynamic and diverse learning environment, a key advantage of taking courses online is the flexibility.  This is especially true for non-traditional students who are unable to come to campus for reasons such as geographical distance or scheduling.

Jason McBride is working toward his Certificate in Adult Education. He is enrolled in five classes, four of which are online.

“The appeal to taking online courses is that I don’t have to adhere to a set time that I need to spend three hours in a classroom,” said McBride.

He admits that one of the challenges of online learning is the self-motivation.

“I really have to structure my day and carve out a time to work on my classes, but the upside is being able to stay home with our small children. We save on daycare expenses and it is good for them to be home as well.”

UNB Online and the College of Extended Learning (CEL) provide many courses and programs online providing both accessibility and flexibility in helping non-traditional students reach their goals.

Certificates in Adult Education, Leadership and Civic Responsibility, Occupational Health and Safety, a Diploma in Technology Management and Entrepreneurship, and a Master of Education are available in online format. In addition, there are over 80 online courses in various disciplines, including arts, business, engineering, economics, English, history, political science, psychology, statistics, and more.

The demand for online courses and programs continues to increase and CEL and UNB Online are working in partnership with faculties and various public and private organizations to create more courses and programs to meet the needs of non-traditional students and the educational needs of today’s workforce.

For more information, visit www.unb.ca/cel/online or contact UNB Online directly online@unb.ca or 506-453-4913.

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