Taking courses online or in a manner apart from the traditional on-campus setting often requires a different approach for all students. These courses are typically taught in a way that does not provide regular contact with the instructor or day-to-day tasks as on-campus courses do. Any student who wishes to take a distance education class must have excellent time management skills, be willing to spend time planning in advance and also be proficient with computers, technology, and the internet. Some campus resources such as the Learning Center, DS, and the Adaptive Computer Technology lab can assist you with developing these skills before you register for a distance education course.
For students with disabilities, the typical classroom accommodations that are frequently provided may not be applicable or may need to be facilitated in a different manner. All accommodations for students with disabilities are determined on an individualized basis. Students are advised to contact DS either before the class begins or at the beginning of the semester to discuss appropriate accommodations. Information regarding the type of accommodations generally given to students by disability type is available.
Students with disabilities may need assistive technology while taking online courses. While technology for a personal computer is not provided by the university, staff at the Adapted Computer Technology Lab can provide assistance. Contact Carlos Taylor, Ball State's Adapted Computer Technology Specialist (firstname.lastname@example.org; 765-285-6124) to learn about technology that may be of assistance to you as you take online courses.
Important reminders for students when considering taking distance education courses:
• Before registering for distance education courses, talk with either the professor or staff in Distance Education to determine if taking a course in this manner is best for you. Distance education courses give students a great deal of independence, thus the ability to be self-motivated and highly organized is of the utmost importance. If this is not how you learn and study best, taking a distance education course may not be wise for you.
• For students needing regular contact with the instructor or extensive tutoring, distance education may not be the best approach. While instructors will communicate electronically, they are not always immediately available to provide assistance or clarification. Tutoring is offered to all students through Ball State's Learning Center, but options for distance education students are limited.
• With courses that are taught on the Internet, students are often expected to contribute regularly to chat rooms. This requires a level of comfort with technology. Online courses may be intimidating for someone who doesn't have basic technological competencies.
• Some courses may require some work outside of home. This could include taking exams at a different location, doing research at a library, or having a face to face meeting with the instructor. Transportation options should be considered before registering for courses taught off-campus.
• If you need assistive technology to participate in the course (screen reader, adapted keyboard, voice activated input, etc.), make sure that your program is compatible with what the university is using.
• If you need an accommodation for the course (testing accommodations, textbooks in an alternate format, etc.), contact DS to request this. Advance planning is critical to ensuring that accommodations are provided in a timely manner.