Online courses and degree programs are the new black. They’re cool, they’re convenient, and they are totally doable. Of course, like everything else, there’s a good way of taking online courses... and there’s a better way!
Before you even get started, you want to make sure you’re set up for success. We mean this literally. You will be spending hours of your time on classes, papers, and other class assignments. So be prepared before you dive into the fray.
Make sure you have a comfortable chair to sit on. Today many office chairs are ergonomically designed for optimal lumbar and back support. You’ll also need a good clear space to work on. This can be a desk, table, countertop, whatever is comfortable, always accessible when you need it, and wide enough to hold whatever supplies you need. And it’s a good idea to have that desk in a space that’s as free from distractions as realistically possible. Also, see to it that you have proper lighting around your workspace to avoid fatigue and eye strain during long hours of computer work.
Having the appropriate learning environment set up is crucial for proper remote learning success. But don’t forget regular school supplies too! Whether you’re a pen to paper type or prefer to click it out on your laptop, be sure you can take notes on the course material as you’re learning. Also, look at the syllabus beforehand to get whatever physical supplies, textbooks, and workbooks that the course is going to require from you. And use the resources and handouts your teacher gives you. They’re there for a reason.
To be successful at your online courses, you’ll want to learn the tech before the class starts. Have whatever technology you need in place. This can include a high-speed internet connection, software like Zoom or other communication apps, a laptop, and access to the online student portal. You also might want headphones if you are learning in an open environment where other people or noises might distract you.
Once you have everything you need, check that it works. Don’t wait for the first day of classes to figure out how to launch a program for the first time or check that your laptop is charged. Do a dry run beforehand, so you aren’t caught by surprise.
And FYI, you can use technology to your advantage. It’s one of the best parts of learning online. For example, there are loads of study guides, online libraries, and studying tools available for remote learning students. There’s also the advantage of being able to playback classes whenever you want. So if you need a concept repeated, you can just hit replay as many times as you wish until the info goes in (it’s also helpful if you find yourself nodding off in the middle of a lecture!). Teachers will also send you updates and resources via email. So check them out to your advantage.
Some people have busy workdays and can only crack open an online course at night. Others work best in the morning when their energy levels are high. The beauty of online degree programs is that you can take classes and get an education at your own pace and schedule. Most programs allow you to take the courses whenever you want; there are usually rolling admissions for people who want to start between semester dates, and the course material is generally available to everyone from the beginning of the course. You’ll be able to hand in assignments according to your schedule and complete tests and other course requirements at your own pace.
So the tip here is to utilize this situation. Go at your own pace. Don’t feel pressured to finish up the courses faster, stick to a specific academic schedule, or conform to other social, emotional, psychological, or externally enforced standards. With steady consistency, you will earn your degree sans the stress, guilt, and hard feelings.
On the other hand, a lot of people are procrastinators. Call a spade a spade, we just love to push things off. No judgments. We generally just need someone to light a fire under our pants to get us moving, which is why it’s important to choose a program that does have SOME requirements. Luckily, most online degree programs will have basic deadlines that you need to follow. This is a good thing because it means you won’t wait until the last week to get EVERYTHING done for the entire semester. Bottom line, don’t procrastinate.
As with anything in life, you want to be as organized as possible when it comes to your online courses. So it’s a good idea to set yourself up with a learning schedule before you even get started. The plan can include a specific time of day when you intend to listen to the classes. It can also pinpoint particular dates or times of the week when you’ll be doing schoolwork. It’s also a good idea to give yourself some deadlines, so you don’t fall into the problem we just mentioned of moving too slowly for the coursework. Set up a schedule that is realistic for your personality, lifestyle, and daily timetable, and you’ll start yourself off on the right foot immediately.
Many people assume that online courses mean DIY learning, but that’s not true at all. In fact, most online degree programs and courses have an entire staff of teachers, administrators, and advisors available for students who are learning remotely. You can reach out to teachers to clarify a point made during the lecture or for more details about a topic you’re studying. You can ask for guidance in choosing classes, picking career paths, or learning in general from the team of advisors. You can even get tutoring and study groups to help you learn the material better, score higher on tests, and achieve an overall higher level of education from your online course.
LOL, right? But it’s not. You’d be amazed at how many people sign up for online courses and don’t show up. Or only show up part of the time. Or forget they are enrolled. Or any other number of reasons/excuses/problems that all lead to one thing: not completing your course. So yes, please log onto your student portal, attend the classes, and get through the course requirements. It’s your certification, after all.
Another great tip for succeeding in remote learning is to create a social network within the learning framework. With tens of thousands of students learning online every year, you are certainly not alone. Connecting with a social network can help make the learning easier for you, give you someone to turn to with questions or frustrations, and even create friendships you can continue outside of the schooling environment. Besides, learning is always more fun with other people around. Two words: study groups.
While getting your degree or certification is a good motivating factor, online courses can definitely get tedious after a while. That’s why it’s important to keep your motivation levels high. You can do this in several ways. Set yourself goals, and treat yourself to something you want when you reach those goals (a special treat, a meal at your favorite restaurant, a massage, a new pair of earbuds, whatever floats your boat). Tie your schoolwork to something meaningful; then you’ll want to get the course done for emotional reasons. Maybe you’re taking a course in reflexology. Imagine helping your friend who is suffering from back pain with the lessons you’ve learned. Or perhaps you’re taking an online course to advance your current career. Visualize the elation you’ll feel when you get a promotion or better position because you’ve earned that degree. Do what you need to do to stay motivated, and the online course will practically complete itself.
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