People come to online learning and career training for different reasons, but the common thread is that in the 21st century, our lives are increasingly busy with jobs, families and work. In order to change careers or advance in the field you’re already working in, you may be thinking about online learning as your way forward.
Learning online can be a tremendously rewarding experience if you use some basic principles. Some may seem obvious, but remember, you will be sitting alone in a virtual classroom for the first time, and establishing good habits in that singular venue at the beginning will help propel you through the process successfully. Making these habits second nature makes it easier to focus on learning and avoid wasting time.
Before you start any classes, make sure your technical skills are up to date. You should be comfortable with at least a word processing system, navigating around the internet and creating documents. If you are not quite at that point, there are community colleges, adult education at high schools and online courses that all offer basic computer classes. And don’t forget that taking notes requires typing, so if you type slowly, try using a typing software program to help you speed up.
Time management is crucial. A class worth three credits is estimated to require nine hours a week of studying, depending on the level and difficulty of the class. Try to schedule 1 1/2 hours at the same time each day to work on class assignments. Stick to the blocks of time you have set out for studying and don’t juggle learning with trips to the store or picking the kids up from soccer practice. Don’t allow anything other than an emergency to interrupt you. Make a daily to-do list and use a calendar to keep track of project due dates and when you start and complete assignments.
Limit Distractions. Turn off your cell phone and disable the notification beep that sounds when new email comes in. If you have a room with a door, by all means use it! If not, public libraries and local college libraries are quiet and usually have access to wi-fi. Resist the temptation to do your work at the local coffee house which is full of distractions. And if you’re a gamer, consider deleting all games from the computer you are using for school.
Don’t take on too much. If you’ve never taken an online class, start with one or two classes instead of a full course load. Too many courses can be overwhelming, and when you feel overwhelmed you are much more likely to give up. By starting at a slower pace, you will get used to the demands and the time requirements as you learn the subject matter. By the second time you register for classes, you will have a much clearer idea of how much you can realistically handle without burning out or dropping out.
Communicate. Your professors do want to hear from you and usually provide email and text information to their students. Don’t hesitate to contact them with questions or comments – this adds a little personal interaction to an otherwise anonymous situation. Arrange a weekly online meeting with fellow students to discuss the class subject so you have access to different ideas and opinions. Interaction is different online, but in terms of learning, it can be just as effective as in-person communication after you get used to it.
Keep it clean. Seriously. Unclutter your workspace so you know exactly where to look when you need the notes you took, your calendar or the original syllabus for the class. Once you have organized your space to your satisfaction, make a point of keeping it that way. The more organized your surrounding are the more focused you can remain. Remember the four C’s: Clutter, Causes, Chaos, and Confusion.
Online learning can be the start of a whole new life for the student who adapts well to it. With the tips given here, you should have enough understanding of the process to be confident that you can get the most from online learning and use the skills you acquire to become a success in your chosen field. Ready to get started? Contact us today!