Strategies For Online Degrees and Certificate Programs
A large portion of the United States has suddenly found itself working and studying from home while adapting to a new way of life. This includes students and a wide variety of working professionals. So how can you master this new environment and receiving online instruction? Here are some strategies to help you optimize your time away from the classroom and get the most out of each day at home.
A routine is always helpful, which is why having a habit — or system to help you build positive habits — is essential for those who are new to working remotely. Your daily habits will help you add more value to your daily routine.
Determine if there is a productive habit that can save you a few minutes of time each day. Any positive habit you create or system you implement that saves time has a compounding effect on your results. Set the bar low on how much time you plan to save, but continually raise it to build momentum.
Also try getting dressed and ready one morning just like you normally would. See how much of a difference it makes with your motivation and focus. Sure it’s tempting to wear pajamas all day, but you’ll feel much better about your life and studies when you take care of yourself.
Determine How You Learn Best
Now that you’ve established where you’ll learn, think about when and how you accomplish your best work. If you’re a morning person, make time to study first thing. More of a night owl? Set aside an hour or two after dinner to get some work done and finish your assignments.
Not everyone learns the same way, so think about what types of information help you best grasp new concepts and employ relevant study strategies. For example, if you’re a visual learner, print out transcripts of the video lectures to review. Learn best by listening? Try to build time into your schedule to replay all audio and video-based course content.
As you study your calendar, consider the “Do It Now” rule, a discipline popularized by David Allen in his bestselling time management book, Getting Things Done. You have to evaluate your tasks by urgency and importance to determine priority. Analyze the situation or project in light of your own personal values, not the urgency perceived by others.
If a task is urgent and important, do it now. If you put off doing something that you can do now, it will take you double the time to complete it. For anything that is important (but not urgent) schedule it on your calendar, give it a deadline, and stick to your schedule.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Though it may be practical to look for answers to your online course-related questions independently, hesitating to contact your online instructor when you are stuck may be problematic. If you don’t ask for help, you may end up falling behind, as you may not be able to keep up with the online course.
Build a relationship with your online instructor by staying in contact and informing them who you are, and how you could use their help. By asking your instructors to clarify questions, you will also help them get an idea of the overall effectiveness of the online course. Keep in mind that if you don’t ask for help when you need it, your online instructor may never know that something is wrong. Finally, due to the open nature of online courses, you also help your virtual classmates, in case they are having similar difficulties.
Get a Writing Partner or Virtual Study Buddy
Many of us are relatively sociable individuals. Yet even those who are good at getting things done on their own, often do their best when they’re in some kind of a collaborative environment.
Having a partner to study with can make learning easier and more fun. You will be studying the same courses and doing the same quizzes and assignments, so pooling your knowledge, resources and skills will only increase your success rate.
Collaboration also leads to better brainstorming, particularly when it comes to writing assignments. Having a partner to proofread each other’s work can greatly improve the final product, while making it more enjoyable than working alone.
Participate in Online Discussions
Just because you’re learning online doesn’t mean you have to learn in isolation. Connecting with your virtual classmates will enhance your online learning experience, especially if you are an introvert and visual barriers hinder your ability to express yourself.
Participate actively in online discussions and group activities. Suggest study tricks, offer your input on the course, and engage in new ideas. Just ensure that you are mindful of your tone and be respectful when you disagree with other members of your online group. The more group interaction you have the more engaged you’ll be, and this will help improve your overall online learning experience.
These fundamental tips give students a general sense of what to expect and what they need to know prior to starting coursework. Having a solid understanding of these strategies can also help students meet a variety of challenges in the online learning environment.
So what are some of your favorite tips for mastering online instruction? What are some of the strategies that work best for you? Let us know in the comments below!
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