So you’ve decided to take an online course. While it may seem daunting at first, online learning offers so many benefits that we don’t want you to miss out. Below are 12 tips to help you succeed in your next online course. With a little planning, you’ll feel just as comfortable in an online setting as in a traditional classroom.
1. Start Out with the Right Attitude
Online schooling is a fairly new concept, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that online courses are easier than traditional courses. You are doing yourself a disservice if you go into online learning with that attitude. With TEL courses, these are college-level courses and will require college-level work. To be successful, give your online courses the same respect you would give a traditional course. A great way to take an online course seriously is to focus on why you are taking it.
2. Put Your Goals in Writing
So, why are you taking this course to begin with? Odds are, it’s something you need to complete to achieve a larger goal. Put those larger goals in writing and refer back to them any time playing Destiny sounds better than working on that research paper you’ve been avoiding. Reminding yourself of your motivation will keep you moving forward!
3. Set Up an Effective Study Environment
The great thing about online learning is that it allows you to learn and study from anywhere. But this makes it crucial that you set up a study space in the type of environment you need to be successful. For some, that may mean a completely secluded and quiet space. Others work best when there is background noise or music playing. Setting up an environment specifically created for studying trains your brain to be ready to work when you enter that space.
4. Eliminate Distractions
We’ve all been there. You sit down to study, and before you know it, you’ve binged seven episodes of The Office and spent the last hour browsing Instagram. Put away distracting devices, and if needed, download one of the many anti-distraction apps available. Trust us. Just do it.
5. Utilize All Available Resources
Figure out early on in the course what resources are available, and use those to your advantage. Most online courses provide extra learning resources, and they often come with opportunities for tutoring or study groups to make up for face-to-face instruction. Don’t let these go to waste!
6. Stay Organized
This can be tough, but it’s just as important to stay organized in an online course as it is in a traditional course. Whether you stay organized with post-it notes, color-coded planners, or separate binders, find what works for you and stick with it. Here are some helpful suggestions for how to get organized! Staying organized makes it much easier to handle learning on your own. That being said…
7. Ask Questions and Seek Help When Needed
Taking an online course does not mean there is no one to reach out to for help! If you have questions or are struggling with a topic, find your point of contact for the course and ask for clarification. Nothing is worse than getting behind in a course simply because you were hesitant to ask for help. For TEL courses, simply look for the question mark in the bottom right corner of each page.
8. Take Notes
Write down important points just like you would in a traditional classroom. If you despise taking notes, make it fun with colored highlighters or coordinated symbols that point to related ideas. Who wouldn’t want to learn about the Civil War when there are smiley face stickers cheering you on as you memorize important dates?
9. Manage Your Time Wisely
Here it is. You knew it was coming. Time management! With self-paced online courses, it’s too easy to put off your studies. Between hanging out with friends, feeding your cat, and keeping up with your favorite sports team, life gets busy. One of the first things to go is usually time to study. Set aside time each week to study so you don’t fall behind. This brings us to our next tip…
10. Make a Study Plan
While this is part of managing your time wisely, it deserves its own point. Making a study plan is one of the easiest ways to make sure you don’t get behind. Treat studying like your job and incorporate it into your weekly routine. Then, stick to your plan!
11. Proofread Everything You Submit
You just finished writing your paper. Whew! Finally! While it is tempting to turn it in and be rid of it, heed your better judgment and do a proofread. The last thing you want is to get marks taken off an assignment because you didn’t take the extra time to check for simple mistakes. Do yourself a favor and proofread your work. A helpful tool to use is a “check as you type” program like Grammarly, which checks your spelling and grammar as you work.
12. Take Breaks
Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget to take breaks! Now, this doesn’t mean you should take a three-hour break after each math question you complete. Take frequent, short breaks. Stepping away from your computer screen for a small stretch of time every hour or so will increase productivity by giving your noodle a little time to recover from all the awesome learning you are doing.
Let’s Do This!
Wow, that was a lot of information! Hopefully, you learned some tricks that will improve your studies or get you over the fear of online learning. Virtual courses are doable for anyone who is willing to take the time to succeed! If you are interested in taking your very first online course, visit our courses page to see what we have to offer.