How to Succeed in an Online Course
Distance learning isn’t for everyone; in fact, distance learning is only a good option for students who are self-motivated and committed to their coursework. Not everyone can learn from a textbook. For students who struggle with following instructions or reading comprehension, it will be difficult to succeed in a virtual classroom. Almost all interaction with other students and even with the instructor is done over the internet. E-mail, discussion threads, video, and audio, are all fairly common instruction techniques in a virtual classroom. While being able to complete the course on your own schedule is a great benefit, it can be a difficult for students who rely on their instructor’s support and prodding to complete work in a timely manner. Online courses open the doors to education and subsequently, workplace advancement, that millions of people could not otherwise have accessed. Working mothers, single income families, executives with careers in full swing, and even truck drivers can earn a degree and advance their career without stepping foot in a classroom.
CommitmentThe critical element that will determine your ability to succeed in an online class is your level of commitment. Online courses require time. If you aren’t committed to the course, you’ll never find the time to complete assignments, study, or take exams. To get as much or more from an online course as a traditional class, you have to take an interest in the subject. This interest will motivate you to learn as much as possible from the course and to participate in learning opportunities like virtual discussions with other students. You will encounter challenges, interruptions, and time constraints, just as in any course, but you will to work through them and complete the material. The instructor will be able to tell how much time you put into the course by the quality of your work. Don’t skimp just because you don’t have to sit in a classroom because your grade will reflect your effort—be it high or low.
Time ManagementAn online course is in your hands and on your schedule—don’t forget to include it. You’ve probably heard the phrase, ‘out of sight of mind,’ this doesn’t just apply to boyfriends, but to virtual classrooms as well. If you don’t make your online course a priority by clearing time in your schedule to read the text and complete the work it simply won’t get finished. In an online course, there is no professor hassling you for assignments, no two o’clock class to rush to after work, just a computer screen waiting for your attention. Don’t be deceived by the relaxed scheduling; there are still expectations and deadlines to meet but there is no one to remind you that your education is a priority. Each online course has a different pace, and if you fall behind it is difficult to catch up.
Writing SkillsEven if you aren’t taking an English course, solid writing skills are essential in an online course. Almost all of the interaction between you, the professor, and other students is done via e-mail or chat. Because of this, it is absolutely critical that you be able to articulate your questions, opinions, and concerns clearly in writing. Additionally, there are typically term papers and an essay exam or two that you will need to complete for your grade. Even though the focus of the course may not be your writing skills, writing is the primary form of communication in a virtual classroom, so it is a key element to your success.
Ask QuestionsYou will likely encounter at least some material in the course that will be difficult for you to understand. Contact your instructor or another classmate and get the answer. If you feel like you are missing a piece of information, you will have to make an effort to find it.