If you’re considering online courses, that’s great! Learning online is the perfect way to gain new skills on your own time, wherever you may find yourself.
Of course, online doesn’t mean easier or less rigorous. It does mean that you have location on your side, so you can learn new subjects or master a new skill set entirely from your home. That said, there are some considerations for making the most out of your online course.
If this is your first time taking an online course, check out these great tips for success.
1. Connect with your instructor and other learners
It’s rare to attend an on-campus class and not interact with other students or the instructor. You can (and should) also do this in an online learning environment.
Reach out to your instructor early on in the course to let them know what you hope to get out of the material. Better yet, let them know what your professional goals are or how you plan to apply what you learn.
If your course comes with a discussion board, take advantage! Participating in class discussions and forums is a great way to understand and critically think about the topics at hand.
All of these interactions increase not only your likelihood of success in your online course, they will help you get more out of the material.
2. Create your own schedule
In a traditional classroom, you are typically handed a syllabus during your first class. Your syllabus will have the course schedule, important deadlines, tests, and project due dates. Online courses are no different.
Look at the course outline and make a note of all due dates.
Try to plan out the total time you have to complete your course, and create a schedule for yourself.
Plan out your milestones and when assignments are due. You can do this on your phone, which gives you easy access to your calendar. Be sure to schedule that time throughout your week and spread it. And don’t forget to include time for reviewing what you’ve read before quizzes and exams.
Never miss a study time, even if you don’t have anything due that week. This helps prevent procrastination. If you treat this like a job, or have to plan around your job, you’re fully prepared for everything that will come your way.
3. Find a consistent workspace
The traditional classroom setting is built around a schedule. This is because different courses share the same classroom throughout the day.
So if you’re used to attending a lecture or lab on certain days of the week, at specific, for a set period – good news! You can recreate this experience for your online course, especially if you’re learning from home.
Try to choose a specific “study space” and time that is reserved for learning and stick to it.
Pick a space where you can learn productively. If that’s the kitchen table, great! The couch? That’s great too. Wherever it is, make sure you feel like you can tackle your studies head on.
This is your time to learn, and you want to make the most of it.
4. Limit interruptions
Students in a traditional class have a time and space that is dedicated solely to learning, which helps minimize distractions.
Limiting interruptions is the trickiest part of learning online, but one of the most important. Being consistent in your schedule and your study space as will go a long way, but you also need to limit the interruptions to make the most of your time.
Let others know that you won’t be available during your scheduled times and that you are not to be disturbed. And if you can get away with it, put your phone on silent.
If you find your mind wandering or you are having trouble concentrating, set a timer and reward yourself when your study session is complete.
Regardless of where and when you’re learning, take advantage of the flexibility of an online course!
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