Distractions Galore

One of the biggest problems with Web courses is that it opens the doors to distractions, particularly for the Webbies. The distractions will drag Webbie grades down while the Newbies tend to be more focused on the material and will do better. The Web may yet be a great equalizer. But just to warn you, here is a list of the great distractions:

Friends on Email
If you are a Newbie and you just discovered that you can email all of your friends at other universities and around the world, you may get really swamped. Limit your emailing. Pace it, don't be ruled by it.

Friends in Rooms
A lot of Webbies are into Chat Rooms, AOL Instant Messenger, and ICQ. This is another great tool for communication. But it can be a real time drain. It is particularly distracting if you are in social chat in one window and trying to study or write an assignment in the other. Only engage in chatting if it is about what you are doing, namely a study group or with the TA.

Music and Videos
Listening to music and watching TV while studying is bad enough. Listening to music on the Internet (MP3's for you Webbies) and watching videos on RealMedia, etc. is even more distracting because it uses up screen space, uses up computer resources and bandwidth, and requires more fiddling and clicking around to control the media. Best to just stick with Mozart CD's even if they don't really increase your SAT or GRE scores.

Shopping On-Line
Even worse than music and videos is e-commerce. It is too easy to click on advertising banners; leave your school work behind; jump into the virtual mall. Unfortunately, the time and money you spend in the mall is real not virtual. However, if you are interested, check out Blue Fly

Puzzle and Game Sites
Some sites offer puzzles and games to play. Here are a few:

Tangential Browsing
Many assignments in Web-based courses will involve browsing to find information. The problem is that as you look for material relevant to the course, you will come across irrelevant material that looks really interesting. "Click me! Click me!" it cries. OK, sometimes you need to click to see what's there. But again don't let your curiosity lead you too far astray.

A related problem is when you are reading material for the course and you come across hyperlinks, those little clickable things that go off to related information, definitions, and examples. You get there and there are more little clickable things that go to for more information and so on. Is this stuff still related to the course material or is it out of bounds? Bottom line: Is it going to be on the exam? You will have to ask your instructor to be specific about how many clicks to go for material in the course.

XXX Just don't even go there.


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