The Online Learning Trilogy: How to Succeed in Your Online Course

10/31/2013

As the idea of online education has penetrated into people's life globally, the number of online learners keeps increasing. However, online learning is not merely about "study something on the Internet", but it involves some IT techniques, identification of online course providers, personal time management, etc. Here Acadsoc would like to start from the very beginning of online learning and help our "freshmen" in online learning with their studies.


1.       Choose an online program.


Although not a touchable or visible entity, an online course provider needs to be accredited by either the local government or education authorities before it formally runs the business. For those students who want to see their credits of online program transferred to college or university afterwards, it is particular important that they enroll in an accredited online degree program. Even if you do not care whether there are any credits for your course, you still need to sign up at a legal online tutoring platform so as to avoid scams.


Good course providers provide not only courses, but academic or counseling support as well. You need to confirm whether you will get enough help from someone (either a tutor or Customer Support) during your learning.


After picking up an accredited online tutoring platform with support services, you then confirm the curriculum of the course you are going to learn, and check other statistics such as students' ratings and comments on the course before you make the final decision.


2.       Get prepared for the class.


To be prepared for the upcoming class, the first thing you should do is to confirm all the technical requirements for online learning: Does your computer work with the teaching tools on that platform? Do you have a web cam and headsets with a microphone? (On Acadsoc, we have heard some cases in which a student purchased a course but did not know he needed headsets to carry on the class.) It would be even better if you have a printer, for you can print the notes of the class for further reviewing.


Once you have started to take online classes, do not forget to keep in touch with your tutor. Let him or her know your needs or the difficulties you meet in your work, so that the tutor can tailor the course better for you. By connecting with your tutor, you will get more academic help.


If you are taking a course that lasts long (say, a few weeks or even several months), set yourself a schedule. Mark up all the days when you have classes, dates of exams, and due dates for assignments on a calendar. It may be more effective if you can set reminders on your computer (for example, using the Calendar in Microsoft Outlook). In this way, you can stay organized throughout the whole learning process.


3.       Do time management.


Students have classes at fixed time at school, but when it comes to online learning, no one will constantly remind you when to study and what to do, except yourself. Thus, developing good learning habits and strictly managing your time are critical factors for success in individual online learning.


First, make a plan for your study: how much time to spend on your study every day, what time to start doing course work, etc. And be sure to stick to the plan afterwards. Start your assignment or exam review early instead of getting hurry-scurry the night before the due date/exam.


You may not have classes every day, but you are advised to sign in to the online system on a daily basis in case of missing any new update, for instance, the syllabus gets changed. Such daily check-in can also prevent you from procrastination.


If you get really stuck at a problem during your study, do not hesitate to let your tutor know. Hours or even days of individual work in vain will only slow down your progress.

To sum up, online learning requires more self-motivation and self-discipline than regular school life does. So try to train yourself into an efficient online learner!


(Photo source: ISTOCKPHOTO)

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