With the spring and summer course list already out, and knowing that I would be taking a spring course, I immediately searched for an online course. I have had quite a few people ask me for my opinion on online courses, and I always respond saying that I personally enjoy online courses. Registration begins on Monday March 6, 2017 @ 6AM, so get planning! While I can understand people not enjoying the lack of the same interaction you receive while in a classroom setting, what I always really enjoyed about taking an online course is how for the most part, you can flex the work around your schedule. However, what I also hear often from people considering online courses is the concern about whether or not they will be motivated, and ultimately, succeed, if they are not forced to go to a classroom lecture. And so, with the spring and summer course registration coming up, I have compiled a few tips to help you succeed in online courses.
1) Reach out to professors early:
Do not make the mistake of thinking that because you are in an online course that it is going to be a lot easier than an in-class course. With this being said, figure out what questions you have ahead of time and reach out to the instructor. Just because you are not seeing the instructor face to face regularly does not excuse you from having the responsibility of seeking them out to gain answers to any questions you have. Do not be afraid to email them early with any questions you have. I took an online course once where the professor was even willing to communicate via Skype. If you are willing to communicate with the instructor when taking an in-class course, then there is no reason not to also do the same with an online course. In fact, it may be even more crucial to do so, since you do not have the luxury of gaining answers to unasked questions from the instructor in lecture.
2) Establish a Good Workspace:
In your typical in-class course, you split your time between the classroom and wherever you go to study and complete your work. Seeing as all your time is spent outside of a classroom, it is even more important that you have a good workspace set and established. When establishing a good workspace, some valuable things to keep in mind is how quiet that place is going to stay, how good the internet connection is in that area, and how likely you are going to be distracted while in that area. If this area is not a space in your own home, then it is also smart to make sure this is a space you can routinely have access to.
3) Stay Organized:
Considering you do not have the constant reminder of seeing an instructor in the classroom who may pass out a hard copy of the syllabus or other information to you, it is even more important with an online course to stay organized. In case you encounter a technology problem, it is a wise idea to backup files on a USB drive, or print out paper copies. Many online courses take the online forum discussion post where you have to submit weekly posts. It is not a bad idea to save your posts on your computer, in case something goes wrong and your post does not submit. Also, it is just as important to take notes when you are doing your readings and keeping track of your due dates, be it on your phone calendar or an agenda.
4) Time Management Skills:
What you must remember is just because you are in an online course which gives you more flexibility in terms of when you do your studying, that does not mean you do not have to study. Treat your time you have to study as seriously as you would an in-class course. Let your friends know that you are unavailable during those times and try to stay off social media. You need to schedule enough time to study the materials in your online course and enough time to complete assignments. Make sure to have a proper balance between leisure time and study time.
At the end of the day, online courses are a great way to continue your education but also have time to do other things. If you can get by not having the face-to-face experience, and online class may be for you!