Online courses are increasing in popularity with good reason. They provide you with a lot of flexibility and convenience to complete your educational goals. Taking courses online is a much different experience than what you will get in your traditional (physical) classroom setting so it’s important to anticipate a bit of a learning curve. To ensure you conquer your online courses, check out our tips for success.
1. Ease into online courses
If you can, it’s wise to start out with one or two online courses rather than jumping into a full schedule of online courses. This will give you a good balance within your schedule and get you accustomed to the online format. Some campuses even offer “mixed mode” courses which will give you the best of both worlds. With mixed mode, you may go to class twice a week, and your third class session for the week is completed via an online module. This is a great way to learn which delivery method that you prefer.
2. Time management
It can be easy to adopt the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality when it comes to your online courses. Although you may not be required to be physically present in the classroom during assigned times each week, you should still designate your own times to dedicate to your course. This will help you to establish consistency and fight off the urge to procrastinate. Your syllabus should be available either before your class begins or on the first day. When you get the syllabus, be sure to put all of the important dates in your calendar right away, so you aren’t surprised by any due dates later in the semester.
3. Create your own classroom
The beauty of online courses is that your “classroom” can be anywhere with internet access. This flexibility is AMAZING, but if you still like some structure, it’s important to establish a physical location where you can get into the zone to knock out your online coursework. If you’re like me, your house has never been cleaner than when you are procrastinating an assignment, so if that’s the case, maybe the library or a local coffee shop is a better choice for you. Once you find your productivity place, use this as the primary location to tackle your coursework.
4. Understand expectations
Online courses can come in all sorts of formats. Some may require you to meet digitally at a specified time or go to campus to take your tests. It’s important to understand any special requirements of your online course ahead of time. You don’t want the drop deadline to pass and THEN you realize that you are living states away from campus and you are required to come to campus to take your tests…yikes! Generally, this special information will be listed within the course registration notes, but it’s always good to double check with the professor ahead of time to get the clarity you need to ensure the course will be a good fit for you.
5. Be tech savvy
Since you will be relying solely on technology to complete your course, you’ll want to feel comfortable with the tech you’ll be using and ensure you have access to it. Your syllabus should outline the necessary tech specifications. If you do not own a personal computer or yours isn’t equipped with what you need, your campus computer lab is a good option that will probably have everything you need. If you ever run into any issues using any of the tech associated with your course, your campus helpdesk may be able to troubleshoot these issues with you.
6. Be engaged
It can be pretty easy to feel isolated within an online course. Engaging with your classmates and professor isn’t as natural as it is in the classroom setting, but it’s still something you should definitely do. You will probably have class discussion boards; use these as an opportunity to engage with your peers. If you’re nearby to the college, this may also be a good forum to find study buddies you can meet up with. Your professor may host virtual office hours within a chat room in addition to having some availability on campus. If not, you can still contact them via email or phone. Although the interaction with your classmates and professor may look a bit different in the online setting, it is still equally as important to have the most fulfilling experience.
Everyone has different learning preferences, but you may actually find that you are more successful in online courses. Lucky for you that you are in college during a time where tons of different learning options are available to try so you can find what suits you best!