If you’re thinking of studying for an online degree, then you’re certainly not alone. In fact, statistics show that online degrees are rapidly growing in popularity and may even overtake traditional campus-based programs in the future, thanks to their flexibility, ease of access, and often-cheaper tuition fees.
Online degrees were once shunned as being ‘less than’ compared to traditional degree programs, but today, that point of view is well and truly defunct. And they have come on a lot since being a degree choice only for busy working professionals and parents who didn’t have time to get to class – today, online degree programs are studied by anybody who’s hoping to improve their qualifications, gain new skills, and boost their job opportunities. Maybe you want to study online because you are a busy working professional or parent, or perhaps you simply prefer the idea of having the freedom to study whenever is best for you and would rather not have to worry about fitting your plans around lectures and seminars.
Regardless of your reasons for studying online or the course that you are planning on taking, one thing’s for certain – technology is key to helping you get through your online degree. Here are some of the gadgets and apps that you might want to put on your shopping list.
1. A Laptop or PC:
Whether you don’t currently have one or your current computer needs an upgrade, a decent laptop or PC is probably going to be one of the first things on your list when it comes to getting the tech that you need to study online. Deciding whether you want a laptop or a desktop will be the first step; laptops are certainly more portable and will be an ideal choice for you if you would rather be able to take your studies with you to coffee shops and libraries, etc. They are also better if you are hoping to meet up for regular study sessions with other students as you can simply take your laptop along and get more work done.
On the other hand, if taking your studies out and about with you doesn’t really matter to you and you’d rather stay at home in your designated study space to learn, a desktop PC could be a better option. It’s also worth considering the type of course that you’re going to be studying for. If you’re studying design or programming, for example, a desktop may be a better choice as they tend to be more powerful and suited to this kind of work.
2. A Smartphone or Tablet:
If you’ve decided to go with a desktop PC, then the good news is that, even though you might not be able to take your computer out with you, your smartphone or tablet may be able to do the job if you do decide to go and study at your local Starbucks or meet up with a group of fellow online students at the library. Using your smartphone or tablet, you can download a variety of different apps to help you get the most from your studies, whether you’re using them for scheduling a study timetable, creating flashcards for revision, or learning new skills that are relevant to your degree course.
For example, if you are studying for a business course from SCU online, then your smartphone will certainly come in handy when it comes to downloading notes such as on Evernote, where you can keep everything in one, easy-to-reach place for revision and assignments. Or, if you’re taking a course in IT and programming, apps like Mimo are excellent for learning new coding skills on the go; you can spend any spare time that you have commuting or on your lunch break at work learning new programming languages. If your smartphone is a little dated, it’s definitely worth looking into investing in a new one before your online degree commences as it can become a very useful tool for your studies. Similarly, a tablet is a great investment as you can use it to download several useful apps, and it can also double up as an e-reader for textbooks.
3. A High-Quality Headset:
Studying online doesn’t mean that you’ll never speak to anybody – in fact, quite the opposite is true! You may need to attend online tutorials, which are held in virtual classrooms, giving you the chance to communicate with your tutor and fellow students. Although there is usually the option to communicate via text if you like, you will also have the chance to call the others in your tutorial group, which can be ideal if you need to get a point across, ask a specific question, or simply get to know your tutor and fellow students a little better.
A good quality headset with a microphone is a great way to do this as it will keep your hands free for typing out notes whilst joining in with the general discussion. You can find several suitable headsets that are designed for gaming or opt for one that would normally be used in a workplace setting. Just make sure that it has the right connection for your laptop or computer – an aux cable or USB connection will usually work well. Choose a noise-cancelling headset if you’re worried that noise around the home is going to get in the way of your conversations.
4. Getting Tech Support:
If you’re not used to using technology very often and are about to embark on an online degree problem, don’t worry! Online degrees are open to everybody, and it’s quite common for people with little to no technological experience to enrol on them. Speak to your online university’s tech support department or ask your tutor for advice if you are struggling to decide on the best gadgets for your needs or would like a little bit of help with using them. They should be more than happy to accommodate you, and by the end of your degree, you’re likely to have become much more comfortable using technology.
What tech must-haves would you buy before starting an online degree?