Online courses are at the forefront of changes in higher education, but they require special attention from instructors and students, according to a U of A expert.

Where nonverbal communication skills are lacking, online education can be a cost-saving experience, but it requires time and discipline for both students and teachers, said Kyla Macario, a professor of practice at the University of Arizona Office of Instruction and Assessment.

Online classes could save students and teachers money, because they are not required to travel to get to a classroom.

However, students are expected to keep the technology required for the class maintained and updated. The same is expected from the teachers, Macario said.

For teachers, Macario said they need to be available during scheduled online office hours, in order to answer students' questions and avoid confusion. Instructors also need to know the best type of assignments that get the most student interaction.

Before committing to an online class, Macario said students be aware that they need good time management skills, and be prepared to set time aside daily for their classwork.

Students should maintain a schedule, just as if it was a face-to-face class, in order to be successful, Macario said.

Ashley Grove is a journalism student and an intern for Arizona Public Media