Posted June 06, 2013 by

Want to Earn a Degree But Fear Computers? How Online Schools Can Help

Teacher and student doing work on a computer

Teacher and student doing work on a computer. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Just because you may not be the most tech savvy person does not mean you can’t earn a college degree.  With the right assistance, you can achieve this goal.

Computers are the technical, magical portals to knowledge. That’s why the best online schools are prepared to show adult students how to get up and running quickly and easily.

“Computer skills are commensurate with confidence, yet many professionals are struck with computerphobia – the fear and anxiety about computers and their use – once they are asked to complete tasks other than checking e-mail or surfing the Web,” says Jen Chavez, new student success advisor at American Sentinel University.

This is especially true when adult students realize that joining forums, posting comments, uploading documents or writing papers are key components to the education process.

“Adult students don’t necessarily rely on a computer like the younger generation does,” explains Chavez. “So they’re afraid to try new things, to click around and see what happens. They’re afraid they might do some real damage or break something.”

What if I Break the Internet?
It’s no surprise that such fears exist. Computer language is filled with phrases like, system crash and system error: scary terms that make computers sound like bombs that are ready to explode.

Chavez points out that there’s a perception among many adult students – real or otherwise – that she or he may cause a problem that can’t be fixed or press the ‘wrong button.’

“That’s the kind of fear that prevents comfortable exploration and use,” adds Chavez.

Yet, new adult students are always surprised by how easy it is to gain the confidence needed to make the computer not only a friend, but also an ally.

“It’s just a lack of familiarity with a few basic things that open the door to a whole new set of skills,” says Chavez.

Quality Online Universities Teach and Assist with Computer Skills
Students at a traditional campus-based school receive a thorough orientation that includes a physical tour of campus resources, a tour of the library, academics buildings and the student union.

For an online learning experience, however, what students really need is help mastering the most important tool they’ll need to be a successful: their computer.

“Adult students are very pleasantly surprised to find out that computers skills are easier to master than they thought, especially if there are friendly, unhurried student success advisors by their side,” adds Chavez.

Chavez provides tips for what adult students should look for when selecting an online university to earn their degree.

-Resources: When choosing an online college or university, it is important to select a school that provides resources such as screen sharing (i.e., the ability for an advisor to share what’s visible on their computer screen with a remote user) and webinars (i.e., informative online seminars covering computer basics, tips on writing papers, live chats with deans, etc.) to help new students get acquainted with the online learning environment.

But Chavez points out that it’s not enough to simply have these resources available to students.

An online university should provide proactive outreach and make it a point to get to know their students from day one and talk with them on a weekly basis, especially in their first course, from admissions through to graduation.

“Going to an online school can feel very isolating and at American Sentinel we want students to know that they are not alone in cyberspace and that they have an online community available that will support and help them every step of the way,” says Chavez.

-Online Research Tools: A great online university will also show adult students how to perform successful searches in the online library to garner the best results.

Chavez says that it’s essential for students’ success that they learn from the university how to conduct research and capture valuable data for class input and papers.

“Being able to lean on a partner like a dedicated student success advisor to learn the nuances of the online library and how to navigate through the resources makes the student experience much more enjoyable,” she adds.

Student success advisors play an important role as the support system and direct connection to the university and help students with basic navigation, computer skills, interactive orientation and more.

-Online Orientation: New students should receive also their orientation over the computer and be shown how to navigate an online classroom, post contributions to a live discussion, how to upload and save documents and how to copy and paste information.

Additionally, students should be shown how to save and organize files, use a Web browser and organize folders based on their hierarchy or levels of importance.

Chavez says that a good orientation will help the once computerphobic to become computer-friendly.

“Students realize that computers are less complicated – or mysterious – than they thought,” says Chavez.

With a few helpful instructions and a patient advisor to lean on, new students quickly gain the confidence they need to be successful.

“Most students are so surprised at how easy it is to gain the basic skills they need to join discussions, perform research and write papers once they have the confidence to know where to click and what to expect,” adds Chavez.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Posted in On-line Education | Tagged Tagged , , , , , , , ,