Preparing to Learn Online
Student Strategies for Success
Learning in the online environment is different in many ways than learning in a physical classroom. The student must be more self-directed and assume greater responsibility for the learning process. Time management is critical. There are some tips that can help the transition from a traditional classroom to an online course. You really do control your learning in an online course. In many cases, success will be measured based on your individual approach and the effort you put into it.
Get to Know the Course
Review the syllabus as soon as possible and refer back to it often. It will likely include all of the assignments and due dates for the duration of the course. Make note of when assignments are due and what activities are required each week. Explore the weekly content. Visit the discussion forums and see what’s coming up. Armed with this information, you can plan your schedule.
Plan Your Schedule
While online courses give you the flexibility to work on the course wherever and whenever you wish, there are deadlines and due dates that can easily be missed if you don’t plan ahead. Be sure you are aware of the course due dates and plan your time to work on the course accordingly. Your life is likely busy with other courses and commitments. There will be times that are busier for you. By planning ahead, you can work under the best possible conditions and avoid the stress of deadline pressures. If you know you will be unable to access the course for a period of time, let your instructor know as early as possible.
Log in Daily
Start on day one! Conversations will be taking place in the discussion forums. Your instructor will make announcements and, along with your classmates, may send you personal messages. In many cases, the Learning Management System forwards messages to your email. Be sure to check it daily, as well. Logging in at least once every day will help you stay on top of assignments and feel more connected to your instructor and classmates.
Discussion forums are like "class participation" in the traditional classroom. The best way to actively engage with your instructor and your classmates is by making meaningful contributions to the discussion forums. Discussions may also be an integral part of the instructor’s evaluation of your work. Take the time to visit the discussions every day, post as part of or in addition to the assigned work, and comment on the other posts there. Students get frustrated when classmates do not respond to posts. Try posing a question at the end of your response to encourage others to reflect and respond to you. You will get more out of the course by exchanging ideas with your peers, and you will create connections with your classmates by participating with them in discussions.
Know Who to Contact
If you have questions about the content of the course, an issue to discuss or need clarification, contact your instructor via discussion forums or private messaging – whichever is appropriate. Do not be afraid to reach out to your instructor or to classmates who may be able to help or clarify course requirements. If you are having technical difficulties with the course learning management system, you should contact Georgie O'Leary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adapted from http://brown.edu/ce/faculty/online/resources/preparing-students.php
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