Online courses are becoming more common each year. They can be an excellent way to save time on attending in person classes, or provide an opportunity to pick up some extra credits. You may have taken one or two yourself, and the results vary with each student. For one student it can be an excellent experience, but for another it can be a dismal failure. Since they’re only becoming more common, the best strategy is to embrace it and learn how to ace online courses.
Here are a few suggestions…
Take The Course Very Seriously
Since we mostly associate being online with chatting with friends, surfing the web, or even playing games, it’s easy to underestimate what you’re up against when taking an online course. An online course is not a form of entertainment – it’s serious business. If you see it any other way, it’s doomed to be an unpleasant experience.
When you sign up for the course, make sure you understand what is expected. There should be some form of a course syllabus – just as you would get in any other university course – either mailed to you before the course starts, or available online once it does.
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Keep that handy, refer to it often, and makes sure to stay ahead of your assignments. Since online courses tend to move with mathematical precision, it’s generally much harder to play come-from-behind than it is in an in person class.
Block Out Specific Time For The Course Each Day
University students are fond of multitasking – it’s practically a way of life.
But here’s the best advice on mixing online courses and multitasking: don’t. Unlike an in-person course, where you can drift off, daydream, and get the notes from your professor or another student later, online courses are very hands-on.
Once you start a course session, you have to bring a laser-like focus to the table. You have to pay close attention to every nuance of the session, otherwise you could miss critical lessons. Unlike an in-person class, you won’t have a professor standing at the front of the room raising his or her voice to emphasize the importance of certain teachings or concepts. You have to assume that everything you’re being taught, and every session, has significance for the entire course.
Find yourself a quiet space, turn off your cell phone and any forms of instant messaging you participate in, and give the session your full attention. This will also have the advantage of enabling you to complete units more quickly than you would by trying to juggle three or four activities at once.
Make Contact With Human Proctors Immediately
Even though a course is online, there are usually one or more like human beings available. Find out who this person – or people – might be, and may contact early.
You’re not trying to identify yourself as a squeaky wheel early in the process, but you might find that an early exchange provides additional guidance, as well as openning up a channel of communication that may be necessary later.
Print Early And Often
Students often rely too heavily on online stored information. That may work in the normal course of business of your life, but when an online course is your only means of instruction, you may need hardcopy to even study in your off-line hours. Even if the course doesn’t have a print function, use your print screen option as often as is necessary.
This is especially important when it comes to any concepts that you are having difficulty grasping. Having a paper copy of the lesson – or any reference material – to have handy to refer to, may be the strategy that enables you to master a concept that you otherwise wouldn’t.
It will also help you in accumulating study material for exams. And since online courses tend to move more quickly than real life courses, you’ll want to begin studying for exams as early on as possible, and to keep doing it straight through finals.
Find Other Students Taking The Same Course
There’s often strength in numbers, so you should try to identify other students on campus who are taking the same course. At a minimum, try to connect with them on the social media, by email, or by phone. Arranging periodic study groups is even better.
It’s a matter of creating a network of contacts in the event that you have difficulty with a certain lesson. Sometimes all you need is a word or two of encouragement from another student, or just a little bit of clarification.
Have you taken any online courses? How you feel about them?