Tips for Online Education Success

Recognize that high quality learning can take place without going to a traditional classroom: If the learner feels that a traditional classroom is a prerequisite to learning, s/he may be more comfortable in the traditional classroom. Online learning is not necessarily for everybody.

An online learner should expect to:

  • Participate in the virtual classroom at least four days a week
  • Respond to classmates’ ideas and questions
  • Be able to use the technology properly
  • Enjoy communicating in writing

The online learning process is normally accelerated and requires commitment on the learner’s part. Staying up with the class and completing all work on time is vital. Once a learner gets behind, it is very difficult to catch up. Basically, the learner needs to want to be there, and needs to want the experience.

Familiarize yourself with the course’s online delivery system: Learn what modules and links you have access to and how can you use them to get to where you want to go. Find the course syllabus, schedule, calendar, requirements, methods of communication, where you go for help, etc.

Participate: Whether you are working alone, or in a group, contribute your ideas, perspective and comments on the subject you are studying, and read about those of your classmates. Your instructor is not the only source of information in your course—you can gain great insight from your peers and they can learn from you as well.

Be a critical thinker: Introverts as well as extroverts find that online learning requires them to utilize their experiences. This forum for communication eliminates the visual barriers that hinder some individuals in expressing themselves. In addition, the learner is given time to reflect on the information before responding. The learning process requires the learner to make decisions based on facts as well as experience. Assimilating information and executing the right decisions requires critical thought.

Take the program and yourself seriously: Elicit the support of your colleagues, family and friends before you start out on your online adventure. This built-in support system will help you tremendously since there will be times when you will have to sit at your computer for hours at a stretch in the evenings and on weekends. When most people are through with work and want to relax is most likely when you will be bearing down on your course work. It helps to surround yourself with people who understand and respect what you are trying to do.

Be self-motivated and self-disciplined: With the freedom and flexibility of the online environment comes responsibility. The online process takes a real commitment and discipline to keep up with the flow of the process.

Find private space where you can study: This will help lend importance to what you are doing as well. Your own space where you can shut the door, leave papers everywhere, and work in peace is necessary. If you try to share study space with the dining room or bedroom, food or sleep will take priority over studying.

Log on to your course everyday or at least four times a week: Once you get into the online conferencing system, you will be eager to see who has commented on your postings and read the feedback of your instructor and peers. You will also be curious to see who has posted something new that you can comment on. If you let too many days go by without logging on to your course discussion group, you will get behind and find it very difficult to catch up. Be willing to commit five to ten hours a week to your course.

Be polite and respectful: Just because you don’t see your classmates face to face doesn’t mean you should let yourself go. Remember, you are dealing with real people on the other end of your modem. Being polite and respectful is not only common sense it is absolutely obligatory for a productive and supportive online environment. In a positive online environment, you will feel valued by your instructor, valued by your classmates and your own work will have greater value as well.

Speak up if you are having problems or need questions answered: Remember that your professor cannot see you, so you must be absolutely explicit with your comments and requests. If you are having technical difficulties, or problems understanding something about the course, you MUST speak up otherwise there is no way that anyone will know that something is wrong. Also, if you don’t understand something, chances are several people have the same question. If another student is able to help you, he/she probably will, and if you are able to explain something to your classmates in need, you will not only help them out, you will reinforce your own knowledge about the subject.

Additional resources:
Ten tips and tricks for online students:

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