Taking online classes can provide both enriching and convenient opportunities for MVNU students to complete required course work. Online courses make it easy to work around a busy schedule, no getting up for an 8:00 am class, and you don’t even have to be on campus to take the course. Both online courses and in-person courses require slightly different approaches. Both have their unique advantages. However, online learning requires time management skills, self-discipline, and strong motivation to complete the online course successfully. In this article, I will share three recommended strategies for online learners, to help you stay motivated and engaged when taking courses online.
1. Understand the course expectations and procedures
The first thing you need to understand is that your online course is not an easier way to learn, but rather a more convenient one. To successfully learn online, you need to commit a significant amount of your time consistently engaged with the course material, and attention to the learning process. This begins by having a good understanding of the course expectations and procedures as well as an understanding of your ability to accomplish the goals of the course. Your online course expectations will most likely require that you:
- Have a higher level of technical competency,
- Complete your learning tasks and assignments on time, and
- Be a self-directed and proactive learner.
If you are not able or willing to do all of the above, you will probably not be a very happy online learner.
2. Identify your learning objectives and goals
Remember those goals and objectives in the front of a textbook or the syllabus? This is the information that most learners just skip over. In your online class, the weekly goals and learning objectives are the important road map to help you stay on track with your learning, direct you to the scope of the weekly assignments, and guide you to what is the most important learning resources for the week. You can stay focused on your weekly goals by creating notes that are closely related to your learning objectives. Make sure that you review them every time you start an assignment so that you stay focused on your goals. Starting with the simplest tasks to complete the learning goals helps scaffold your experience and builds confidence to be a self-directed learner.
3. Build an online study plan
A study plan is critical to online learning. Some courses will provide a checklist to help you plan out action steps. It is very easy to not devote your full attention because there is no classroom to show up in. Creating a checklist, or study plan, will help you keep yourself accountable for the weekly learning activities. Here are some strategies to help you design a good study plan:
- Plan ahead
Never wait until the day before an assignment due date to start working on it. This only creates lots of stress, which will prevent you from successfully completing the online task in a quality way. Creating a checklist of assignments that are due, allows you to manage your time more effectively. For example, if you are going on vacation in the middle of your online course, you will want to plan sufficient time to complete the work in advance.
- Create a calendar system
Online learning needs structure; create a study calendar that will help you remember all important dates. You can use any calendar app on your mobile device, or you can even create an old-fashioned wall calendar.
- Create to-do lists
At the start of each week, make a to-do list of the tasks you need to complete by the end of the week. This is an excellent way to prioritize your study plan and stay on track with your studying. Most courses have a consistent assignment schedule, so aim to find a good routine to complete your studies.
- Stay on schedule
Finally, stick to your study plan. Procrastination is the worst enemy of online learners. If you are having difficulties submitting your assignments on time, contact your online course instructor and let them know, so that they can help you create a consistent study routine.
Follow these three simple strategies for online learning, and you will be able to make your experience a successful and engaging learning experience.
Author: Dr. Dean Goon, Director of Innovative Education