By Donna Iadipaolo, Online Program Teacher
Many students succeed and reach new heights through online learning in part because of its flexibility, personalization, and content focus.
The online learner decides when he or she needs to study, work through math problems, or write papers, along with many other tasks. But with this freedom comes more responsibility and the need to be proactive about one’s own learning. Often the learner decides how much work he or she wants to complete and when, where, and how to complete it, instead of being directed or managed by the teacher. The learner must also take the initiative to reach out to the instructor if any issue arises.
Having worked about half of my 17-year teaching career as an online educator, I have witnessed countless students excelling academically through online learning. And, as an online student myself, currently pursuing a doctorate in the field, I have found fewer distractions, more of a content focus, and greater objectivity in online learning.
If you are exploring options like Clonlara’s Online Program, here are five tips to keep in mind:
1. Have realistic expectations.
Many have the false impression that online learning is not as rigorous as traditional learning or that it is considered a “blow off.” In reality, online courses, in most disciplines, often cover the same major concepts as regular classes because they are based on the same or similar standards. Therefore, much of the content in online learning is just as challenging to master, and in many instances, even more rigorous than traditional courses. Students need to take these courses seriously and bring a positive and proactive attitude to completing them.
2. Manage your time wisely.
Making a plan on how to complete the work is vital. Calculate how much material there is and about how many hours it will entail each week. Then break it down into a daily schedule. Set aside a few times a day where you can sit down and work uninterrupted. The benefits of online learning are numerous. For example, you don’t have to trek out in bad weather and can even wear your pajamas to do the work, but planning and follow-through are vital!
3. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
Feel free to reach out and send an e-mail to your teacher at any time. That is what they are there for, to help you. Usually, they can get back to you within 24 hours. Certain free resources are also available to connect you with your online teacher, such as Twiddla, which includes a whiteboard and live chat area for the instructor and student to communicate and work through problems together in real time.
4. Use additional resources.
Sometimes, links to certain resources within course materials may be out-of-date or need updating. Many students find it useful to do the research on their own for the same concepts. Even if the links are working, it is nice to get a different perspective on the content. For instance, you can find various college lectures on many topics on YouTube, and Khan Academy has many free instructional materials. Your teacher is also available to help find alternative resources, so again—make sure to reach out!
5. Have fun with it!
Online learning can be a freeing experience because the learner is the most important variable making most of the choices. Online learning also allows an opportunity for the learner to directly connect with the content of the course in a more individualistic and personal manner. Sometimes, an instructor may force their own biases or beliefs in a traditional classroom, but in the online world, much more emphasis is placed on how each individual learner interprets and processes the material. Emphasizing your own experiences and interpretations can be empowering as a learner. Have fun with learning the new material and about yourself as well!
Do you have questions or thoughts about online learning? Please share them in the comments below.