Taking an online course gives you a lot of flexibility when you do your course. However, this flexibility means that you must take additional steps to succeed. You must be proactive in creating a part of the structure that you naturally get in a face-to-face course. Here are few tips to help you succeed once you have joined online classes.
1. Have correct expectations
Contrary to popular belief, online courses are not usually “downloadable” courses. In general, they have an academic rigor very similar to that of their counterparts face-to-face. In addition, many online courses take the content of a full semester and offer it in half that time, doubling the pace of the course. Get closer to your online course with this in mind so you do not get caught off guard and fall behind.
2. Establish a good workspace
In a face-to-face class, you divide your time between a classroom and a place outside the classroom to study and complete the task. After joining an online course, all your time is spent as per your convenience. Therefore, it is even more important that you have a good place to do your study. Find a quiet place with a good internet connection, access to energy and the freedom of entertainment. Ideally, this would be a place you can visit regularly throughout the course so that when you’re there, know that it’s time to get to work.
3. Know your resources
Determine as soon as possible all the technologies, websites and campus resources that you may need to use in the course and master them. Make sure your computer is working properly, install the necessary software and check that your browser is up to date. If the course uses special tools, try them first to make sure they work in your system so that you can focus your attention on the course material and not be distracted by technology issues.
4. Stay organized
As with any course, but especially for an online course, it is important to stay organized. Organize all your files in a way that makes sense to you. It is also a good idea to keep a copy of everything you send in case a technology problem forces you to submit it again, including messages in your discussion forum. Do not forget to take good notes while doing your readings or seeing lectures online as you would in any other class.
5. Manage time wisely
Part of staying organized which is so important that it deserves to be your own advice is to have strong time management skills. Online courses certainly give you a lot of flexibility in terms of study, but that does not mean you do not have to study! In the same way that you can attend a face-to-face conference each week, you should plan the time (and enough) on your personal calendar to study the materials in your online course and complete the tasks. Treat these moments as seriously as you would a face-to-face class by staying connected to them, informing your friends and family that you are not available during these times and constantly using your workspace for these periods. Also check submission dates for assignments and add them to your personal timetable as well.
6. Know your classmates and instructor
Even if you are the only one huddled around your computer, you are not alone! As with a face-to-face course, interactions with your classmates and instructor are essential for you to have a rich and engaging experience in the course. Many online courses include an early icebreaker activity to help you get to know your classmates. Especially if your online course is lacking, be sure to go out of your way to introduce yourself to others. These are the people you will be working with during the semester and it’s worth building strong relationships! Do not just say “hello” and go back to isolation, stay in touch!
7. Ask for help if needed
Online space does not have to be an insulator. It is true that your instructor does not see your body language in class to get an idea if you might have trouble. However, your instructor is always there to help you, even if you never meet him in person.