- Remember that online classes are not self paced. While most instructors allow you to work ahead if you choose, they usually have due dates that are firm and assignments must be turned in on that due date.
- Set aside specific time every day to check in to your online class and work on assignments. If you have a great deal of personal and work commitments, be sure there will still be time to complete your coursework.
- When beginning a new class, always read and print out the syllabus and look at all assignments and note their due dates. Be aware of when they might conflict with personal or work commitments and plan accordingly.
- Do not assume all instructors set up their online course the same. Each course can be quite different so it is your responsibility to learn the unique format of each course you take.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification from your instructor when you have questions about the course curriculum.
- Make sure your computer and internet access are consistent and reliable. Remember it is your responsibility to handle all computer issues you may have during an online class.
- Online classes require a student to be self-motivated and to plan ahead. Waiting until the last minute to turn in assignments is risky; if your computer has issues you will miss the deadline.
- Think about what type of learner you are. If you are good at following written directions and do not require face-to-face interaction to learn a new concept, online learning is ideal for you.
Qualities of Successful Distance Learners
|Successful distance learners can resist constant distractions.|
|Whether it's the phone ringing off the hook, the kids screaming in the kitchen, or the allure of the TV, everyone faces distractions. Successful students know how to filter out the constant disturbances that threaten their progress. They feel comfortable turning down an invitation or letting the machine pick up the phone when they know there is work to be done.|
|Successful distance learners do just as well, if not better, without people looking over their shoulders.|
|While some people need teachers to keep them motivated and on task, distance learners are able to motivate themselves. They realize that they will never be face to face with the people who give them assignments and grade their work, but they don't need others to encourage them. The most successful students are self-motivated and set their own goals.|
|Successful distance learners feel alright about missing the social elements of traditional schools.|
|Sure, they realize that they'll miss out on the physical college activities, but they're convinced that the independence is absolutely worth it. Whether they're mature adult learners who aren't interested in the hype, or younger students who get their socialization from extracurricular activities elsewhere, they are comfortable with their current social situation. In place of classroom discussion, they explore the issues with their peers through email and message boards or discuss what they're learning with spouses or co-workers.|
|Successful distance learners have good reading comprehension skills.|
|While most people learn by listening to lectures and taking notes, the majority of distance learners are expected to master material through reading alone. Although some distance learning courses offer video recordings and audio clips, most programs require that students understand a large amount of information that is only available through written text. These students are able to comprehend texts at the college level without the direct guidance of a teacher.|
|Successful distance learners never (or at least rarely) procrastinate.|
|You'll rarely find distance learners putting off assignments or waiting until the last moment to write their papers. These students enjoy the freedom of working at their own pace and appreciate the ability to complete their work in as much time as it takes them, instead of waiting for an entire class. However, they understand that putting off their work too often can end up adding months, if not years, to their studies.|