Wading into online education can pose challenges and take time to get used to for those unfamiliar with the process. There is a learning curve for those not tech savvy. Not all online courses require the same amount of time spent on the computer.
Some courses require checking in once or twice per week to get a decent grade. Others need dedicated times to be set up to ensure posted content is not missed. The thought process of attacking such a course is much different than the first one described. Do not adopt a carefree attitude because some online courses are more difficult than others. Here are some tips for success.
Read the Requirements and Syllabus for the Course
Many courses list a summary of what is covered in the class, a syllabus of the required work, or the prerequisites needed before completing the course. If the course is being taken for a degree program, be sure any requirements for the class have been completed. Check with the university to ensure the credit will be accepted if the online course is offered through another university.
Education is a means of improving yourself and your circumstances. It is a key that unlocks doors to opportunities. A keen sense of self-reliance and self-determination helps overcome the initial obstacles you face when starting an online course.
Be Aware of the Technical Requirements
Before the course starts, make sure your computer works with online tools. Be sure to have sufficient hard drive memory and the most current operating systems are being used on your desktop computer or laptop.
Learn to navigate them to avoid spending time during the course, figuring out the technology. Online programs offer many resources and tools to be utilized. Web-based options include e-books that are not as expensive as textbooks, online libraries, chat rooms where students communicate with professors and fellow students, technical support, and tutors to help with coursework. It is essential to be familiar with the support and help systems available. They are a vital aspect to the success of an online college.
Communicate Effectively with Students and Faculty
Understanding the expectations of the instructor and the coursework is crucial to making passing grades in any course. In-person communication is not possible. Make use of forums, chats, emails, and other communication formats if clarification is needed or a question arises. You avoid misunderstandings, which greatly enhance online college success.
Reach out to the instructor before theclass begins. A simple email to introduce yourself and let him or her know you are excited about taking the course is appropriate. It helps establish a rapport for the remainder of the course.
Set Aside Time to Work on the Course
Quality instructors of online classes create courses that have clear expectations and are easy to navigate. Excellent professors help establish a study framework. If that type of structure is not provided, you have to put one in place for yourself.
Online coursework offers more flexibility than a traditional class, but time management is of importance if you wish to succeed. Dedicated blocks of time should be set aside to login and complete your assignments.
There are due dates and deadlines for the coursework. Use a smartphone or other format that you can update as needed and is always accessible. Know when assignments are due. Scheduling and mapping out the work accordingly is a great help. Dedicating time to the course is a must.
Choose a Place and Time to Work
Whether taking an in-class or online course, you need a place to complete assignments or study. Determine the best time of day and a location where you will be able to give the coursework your full attention and be most productive. It may be at home, the library, or a coffee shop. The workspace should be consistently available and free from interference.
Traditional course attendance entails a consistent schedule to follow. Students have to come up with a way of their own to stay on top of online courses. Assignment due dates should be posted on a calendar. Folders, either paper or on a computer, should be created for the week’s work. A work area that is clean and quiet makes studying easier. Keep all coursework materials together.
Adults contemplating going back to school may feel they cannot squeeze classes into their busy lives. It is possible with online courses. There is no commute. The time saved can be used as study time. Managing time is the key to success.
Online courses and traditional education are not vastly different. They have many things in common. It is the means of transferring information that is different. Following these tips will avoid initial challenges and result in a valid online education.
Anne Baron is a highly experienced educator, writer, and copywriter specializing in academic research. She has a Ph.D. in Educational Administration with almost 25 years of experience in teaching and academic writing. She spent a dozen years managing a large college peer-tutoring program and another dozen years in the classroom teaching college students. She has since retired from teaching and devotes her time and efforts to freelance writing for institutions, businesses, and colleges like Patrick Henry College.