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Is Online Learning Right for Me?


What is online learning?

Allegany College of Maryland offers many courses totally online through our learning management system Blackboard.  Instead of attending classes in a traditional classroom, online learning allows you to "go to class" when it is convenient for you.  Each course you take has its own classroom in Blackboard.  Online learning isn't for everyone.  Keep reading below to see if online learning is right for you.

Computer requirements:

You should have:

  1. Minimum Requirements: PC or Laptop with at least 2 GB of RAM, a broadband Internet connection and Windows 7
  2. Recommended: PC or Laptop with at least 4 GB of RAM, a broadband Internet connection and Windows 7
  3. An ACM email account. The email address will be in this format:  ckent@student.allegany.edu
  4. Online courses are accessed via the Internet using a Web browser. Click Blackboard Supported Browsers to check if your browser is compatible with Blackboard.
  5. Microsoft Office or equivalent software.
  6. Anti Virus software installed and running on your computer.
  7. Some courses require additional hardware and software. Be sure to check the syllabus for the course to be sure you have the appropriate hardware and software prior to signing up for the class.

Technical Skills and Knowledge

  1. Use browser software (Firefox is recommended)
  2. Use a search engine (Yahoo, Google, Bing, etc.)
  3. Send and receive email (including attaching files)
  4. Save files to your hard drive
  5. Find files on your hard drive (navigate folders)
  6. Use word processing software that can save files in the MS Word format.
  7. Update your computer with anti-virus software

Personal Skills and Study Habits

Taking an online course has many advantages, such as:

  1. Increased scheduling flexibility.
  2. An opportunity to study when and where you wish (anytime, anywhere learning).
  3. Enhanced access to the instructor, course materials and course resources.
  4. A chance to learn using new and emerging technologies.

However, an online class is not for everyone. Online courses are not easier or less time consuming than traditional courses. On the contrary, online courses often require more time than a traditional face-to-face course. Online courses also require you to be more disciplined and to accept a greater responsibility for your own learning. If you find it difficult to stay motivated or to meet deadlines without prompting from your instructor, online learning may not be for you.

A successful online learner:

  1. is self-motivated (does not need a lot of direction, motivation from an instructor)
  2. is self-disciplined (can budget time wisely and does not procrastinate often)
  3. enjoys the challenge of learning independently (likes to read and learn)
  4. takes charge of her/his own learning (willing to ask questions and get help when necessary
  5. reads and communicates well
  6. may need a flexible schedule but understands that flexibility does NOT mean the course will be easy.


Determining if you have the technical skills for an online course:

Take the online quiz here.