Thoughts on Online Math Classes

An online class is right for you IF you are motivated and self-disciplined, have good study habits and work well without supervision, are a self-starter and a good reader, and communicate frequently with your instructor. That last point may surprise you, but experience shows that students who have regular and frequent e-mail contact with their instructor are more likely to succeed.

Students who have taken online math courses have told us that it's not the same as taking other subjects online - it has usually been more difficult to take a math class online

How much time will this class take? That depends on many things. A general rule of thumb is 3 - 5 hours per unit per week. So a four unit course may require 12 - 20 hours per week. This could include time for computer work, homework, instructor contact, exams, etc. Most students find online math classes more difficult than the classroom equivalents.

You can pass this course. But you may have difficulty succeeding in this course if your situation includes any of the following:

  • Taking too many units relative to your work and family obligations
  • Working too many hours relative to your college and family obligations
  • Reading and studying in a cursory rather than careful manner
  • Not asking for help (from your instructor and tutors) when you are confused
  • Not learning how to use your calculator early in the term
  • Not having a reliable computer, printer, and internet access
  • Not finishing homework assignments
  • Not studying homework answers and comparing them to your own work to observe your misunderstandings
  • Not working with your instructor and tutors to erase your misunderstandings

If you anticipate that these choices will apply to you this semester, think carefully about taking an online math class. You may need the discipline of a regular on-campus in-person math class.

To help determine whether a traditional lecture or a computer-mediated math class is better for you, please take this survey. To help determine if a distance learning math class is right for you, please take this survey.