You may be one of the growing number of students who wants to earn an online college degree. If so, follow these tips to help you be a successful online student.
Do not suppose. Many students assume that online classes require less work and are easier than traditional classes. In reality, online classes are designed to be as rigorous and demanding as traditional courses. Be prepared for a minimum of six hours of work per week for an online course – and that is a modest estimate. In some weeks and for some whole classes it will take much more time, especially during the weeks of final exams and mid-periods.
Pay attention to the learning objectives of the course. Each course has learning objectives. Do not ignore these goals. The objectives of the course are carefully worked out and are the bases around which a well-designed course is built. Talks, activities, written assignments, discussion boards, and exams – in fact, all in one course – flow from the goals. If you understand the course objectives, you will understand what is expected of you in all aspects of the class, and understand the criteria upon which your qualifications will be based.
Read and practice everything. Exercise with each course screen, not simply with qualified assignments. Do not quickly examine a course by skipping unqualified videos, animations, and self-assessment activities. Your instructor designed the course to help you achieve your learning goals. Even if you do not have a qualification, know that you are there to provide supplemental learning opportunities to better prepare you for exams and qualified assignments.
Make sure you have the required hardware and software. These requirements are specified somewhere in the course – usually in the syllabus or in the introductory section of the course. You may not be able to deliver written assignments, watch videos, or participate in groups if you do not have the right technology. Making sure you have the proper internet connection, anti-spam software, and installed software programs is essential to your online learning success. Do not let a piece of software or hardware prevent you from achieving learning objectives.
Be open to new learning methods. Students learn in different ways, and instructors often use a diverse collection of strategies that are attractive to a wide variety of learning styles. Try the animations, videos, and audio files, even if they look different than what you are used to. Well-designed courses use technology to enhance learning, so be open to it.
Find the pleasure to communicate through text. Most communication in an online course occurs through the written word. Information for the discussion board, written assignments, and email are all common modes of communication in online courses. This is different from traditional classes, where a good amount of communication is oral. Be prepared to read and write quite a lot in online courses.
Participate fully. Answer the questions for discussion board with substantive comments. An example of a bad comment would be a very short “I agree with the reply of the previous comment”. A good comment would bring up intellectually provocative questions related to the subject matter of the lesson and would have multiple sentences. You will likely receive points and qualifications for your publications, and the detail and substance will earn you scores and higher points. A well-designed discussion board is organized to generate thoughtful discussions. Use the opportunity to have meaningful conversation with your classmates.
Be proactive. If you have questions or do not understand an assignment, please contact your instructor. Your instructor will not know if you do not understand something unless you tell him. Do not wait to let the instructor know that you have had difficulties until after you have given an assignment. If you send an email or call the instructor prior to an assignment, short examination, or regular exam, you will avoid difficulties, and will avoid making your qualification suffer.
Set a normal schedule. Log in and register on your course every day … or a minimum of five days a week. Since courses are designed for students to do at least six hours of work each week, it is not wise or effective to wait until the weekend to do the course work. Manage your time and do some work each day, just as you would in a traditional course.
Complete the surveys. Online courses often ask for your feedback somewhere within the course or after the course ends. A school will use your feedback to build better programs and create better online courses. Remember that online education is relatively new, and there is always room for improvement. The time you take to answer a survey will benefit you as well as future students.
By following the proposed tips, you can succeed in online learning – and you will enjoy the experience at the same time.