In the past, getting a college degree actually meant attending classes in person, often struggling with working professionals or people with complex schedules. Now, thanks to advances in technology, it’s easier than ever to find a degree program that gives you the flexibility you need through traditional face-to-face classes, online learning, or a combination of the two.
Online courses have many advantages. You can learn what works best for you anytime, anywhere, so you can easily earn a degree while balancing work and family commitments. And without attending classes in person, online learning gives you access to some of the best degree programs in the United States that may have been difficult or very inconvenient to access.
However, online classes can present unique challenges if you are not prepared. However, as you develop your skills for effective online learning, you will find that this course can be a great alternative to a traditional classroom setting. Here are some tips for successful online learning that will help you get the most out of your next class.
Tips for taking online classes
If you are considering taking an online college course with online teaching software or are already enrolled in a program, the tips and advice below can help you tackle your unique challenges to maximizing the value of your online program.
1. Treat online courses like “real” courses.
When it comes to online lessons, it really takes dedication to sit down and say “I’ll do it”. You have the flexibility to choose when to complete a task during the week, but you cannot postpone indefinitely.
One of the easiest ways to check for follow-up courses is to remember that you pay for this online course just like traditional face-to-face lessons. To get real value from the class, you have to “be present” Faced with online classes, treated the same way as class, or do your job better, you can start with the right start.
Set goals at the beginning of the semester and check yourself every week. In a traditional classroom setting, you’ll often receive verbal or visual notifications of upcoming assignment deadlines. However, unless your professor actively informs you, it is up to you to allocate enough time to complete the assignment so that the assignment does not start the day before the due date.
If you are having trouble taking responsibility, pair up with a fellow classmate or seek the help of a spouse or friend to make sure you are a responsible partner. Organized, active, and self-aware, you can make the most of online classes, even when life outside of school is confusing.
3. Practice time management.
The flexibility to create your own schedule is often one of the biggest appeals of taking online classes. But that freedom can also be detrimental if you don’t have solid time management skills. Without them, you can easily find yourself cramming before class or entrusting low-level assignments.
Your time management method depends on your schedule, learning style, and personality, but here are some generally useful tips to help you practice and improve your time management skills.
Look at the syllabus at the beginning of the semester and record your main assignments. Mark it on a calendar that you check regularly so you know what workloads are going to happen in the coming weeks. Don’t forget to consider prior appointments that can interfere with your regular study schedule, like a wedding or vacation. This will give you enough time to complete the task.
Create a follow-up weekly schedule and set specific times each week to read, watch lectures, complete assignments, research, and participate in forums. Make online courses part of your weekly routine and set reminders to complete these tasks.
When performing a task, it tries to time block, allocates a certain amount of time to each task, and sets a responsible timer before moving on to the next task.
Check back regularly throughout the semester and see how you spend your time. Ask yourself. How much time do you spend on course reading and assignments? Do you need to spend the night before the exam by regularly underestimating the time it takes to complete your assignments? A little self-reflection and adjustment can go a long way.
4. Create and organize regular learning spaces.
Set up a dedicated learning environment for studying. Upon repeated termination, the routine setup begins. Whether your workspace is a kitchen table, a library, or a corner booth in a local coffee shop, it’s important to decide which type of environment is best for you. Experiment with the types of settings that increase your productivity. Wherever you choose, make sure you have high-speed internet access to avoid taking online courses with delayed connections.
Setting up a common workspace or office can help you organize your work. Knowing exactly where important dates, files, forms, syllabuses, books and assignments are located will help you achieve your goals. When setting up your learning space, check the following:
High speed internet connection
You should have the books, materials, and software you need for your course.
Make sure you have headphones to listen to lectures or discussions (especially important in shared spaces).
5. Eliminate distractions.
From Netflix to social media, you will face many distractions that can easily interfere with your studies. The best online students know how to reduce these distractions and give them time to focus.
How many challenges these distractions can be depends on your unique personality and situation. Some people will find that listening to music can erase a noisy house. Others may choose to work at a local coffee shop or library to get rid of the urge to multitask at home. Ultimately, you need to find the strategy that works best for you.
No matter where you work, it’s a good idea to turn off your phone so you don’t lose focus whenever you see a text message or notification. If you’re still having trouble resisting the temptation to check your email or browse the web, try downloading a website blocker. Applications like Cold Turkey and Freedom allow you to get rid of the distractions by blocking apps or websites that compete for attention, like Facebook and Twitter.
6. Identify the best way to learn
Once you’ve decided where you want to learn, think about how and when to do your best. If you are a person in the morning, take time to study first. Are you closer to the night owl? After dinner, sit comfortably in front of the computer for an hour or two. If your child needs to pay attention in the morning and evening, study at noon while in school. Brew your usual cup of coffee, put it in your favorite playlist, then do whatever your business needs.
Not everyone learns the same way, so think about what types of information will best help you understand new concepts and adopt relevant research strategies. For example, if you are a visual learner, you can print a video lesson script for review. Do you learn best by listening? Play and include time to play all audio and video based course content.
7. Be active.
Join the course’s online forum to better understand course materials and connect with fellow classmates. This could include commenting on a classmate’s paper on the discussion board or posting a question about the project you’re working on. Read other students and professors and ask for clarification if you have any questions.
Make sure you are checking in as often as possible. The flexibility of online learning means that you can respond to discussions on a schedule if you have time 30 minutes before planning dinner. Set a goal to check the class discussion thread every day.
And if you feel you are lagging behind, say it. Don’t wait for assignments to almost ask questions or report problems. Email your professor and actively ask for help.
8. Use the network.
Online classes can sometimes feel like you’re learning on your own, but it’s not far from the facts. Most online courses are built around the concept of collaboration, and professors and instructors strongly encourage students to work together to complete assignments and discuss classes.
Introduce yourself and participate in online discussion boards to build relationships with other students. Your peers can be a valuable resource when preparing for an exam or asking for feedback on an assignment. Don’t be afraid to create a virtual study group for them. Perhaps they will be as grateful as you are.
Practice is perfect
Online classes are a great option to help you get the degree you need to achieve your goals. You have your own unique challenges, but following the advice above can help you succeed even in the most confusing times.
For more information on how to become a successful online learner, browse related online learning tips and advice posts or watch the webinar recorded below.