Either way, here are some tips that may make the online learning experience more productive, valuable and even fun, regardless of your prior experience with this modality.
- Treat online studying like a job. In other words, make a schedule of when you will dive into course material and do the homework. Depending on your professional and personal schedule, perhaps you dedicate Monday through Friday evenings for a few hours to your online studying or maybe one day a week plus weekend nights works better. Whatever your “online learning 9-5” is, make sure you start on time, give yourself a break or two and resist the urge to knock off early.
- Connect with others in the courses and talk about the material. It is far too easy with online degrees to wall yourself off and seldom get the benefit of informally, yet thoughtfully, discussing the concepts and discipline you’re learning. Consequently, you rob yourself of truly engaging with the material and allowing yourself to understand others’ opinions on the subject. Sure, you may be required to post reactions and essays for particular courses, but a good healthy debate (in person or via social media) is unparalleled! You might even find a new friend (or enemy, as the case may be).
- Share time with your family or friends as you learn. There are times when you can’t or won’t need to discuss course material. Perhaps you need a few hours of quiet to write a paper or read a series of articles. Go to the park or café and invite your family and friends along. Even if they aren’t online learners, it’s a perfect for them to read, get caught up on their social networking or enjoy being outside as a group.
- Identify your largest fear or challenge with online learning and tackle it! Often times, the online learning experience is marred by one obstacle that could be easily overcome with minimal effort and time. Perhaps you just are not comfortable with online learning systems. Sure, you might have access to an online tutorial, but taking the extra step of seeking in-person help could go a long way. Take advantage of the campus or learning center staff if available. Search for articles online about your challenges or seek out people who have been in the same place to find solutions. In other words, learn about online learning! It will make your online studying much more enjoyable.
Do you have experience with online learning? What tips would you like to share with new students?