So, you've made the decision to return to school and finally finish that degree. Great! With the abundance of online degree programs available today, there is no reason that you shouldn't be able to find something that not only helps you achieve your goals but also is fun at the same time.
Regardless of which school or program you choose, technology will play a significant role in the ability to complete all the coursework and degree requirements. Now, while it is not necessary to have the latest computer and equipment, the student experience will be significantly enhanced with use of at least some of the most up-to-date tech advancements available. So what technology might be considered a necessity for that student experience?
Broadband Internet Service -
Now, this may seem to many to be a “no brainer", but the reality is that many people online today are still using dial-up service. While dial-up will work in some cases, your online degree program may very well require that you have high-speed internet access. This will make downloading class material and participating in live, online discussions much faster and enjoyable. Once you see for yourself, going back to dial-up will scare you.
Internet Phone Service -
I know many of you may be thinking that this one is not a necessity. However, I would disagree for two main reasons. First, with the increasing utilization of broadband internet service, the use of internet phone service has continued to increase in popularity both here and abroad. With services such as Skype, more and more people will be using the internet as a medium for 2-way voice dialogue. If you are attending an international-based online degree program, this may very well be a necessity.
Secondly, the use of internet phone service is relatively inexpensive. Again, with services like Skype and Vonage, you can talk as long as you want for one low flat rate. In fact, you can even call many international locations with no extra charge. For a student who is financially strapped, the ability to talk long-distance for very little is quite a necessity.
Digital Audio Player -
One of the advantages of an online degree program is that you can often tailor the program to fit into your schedule. Because of the fact that you can go to class almost any time and do the work when you want, it is important that you be diligent in proper time management. One significant part of that is maximizing “down time". Many online courses utilize audio and video files that can be produced by the instructor and then downloaded by the student. Using an mp3 player (or something similar), you have the ability to download the course material and then listen to it when you want to. This could include in the car, at the gym, etc. The point is that with use of a digital audio player, you can stay in control and yet maximize your learning opportunities.
Please understand that while we have listed the above technology as necessities, it's availability and/or affordability to you will not determine your online education success alone. These three technology necessities will greatly enhance the educational experience, but your success will also depend on your ability to stay focused, study hard and effectively manage your time. As with many technological improvements designed to make our lives easier, it is not difficult to become distracted and spend countless hours focused on things such as entertainment. However, your job as a student will be to minimize the distractions and accomplish the goal of obtaining your degree. Let technology aid you, not hinder you.
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