Get to the Head of the Class
Online courses are usually conducted through a learning management system similar to a social media site, but built just for you, your classmates, and your instructors. You can send and receive email, view content posted by instructors, submit assignments, and interact with classmates on discussion boards. Enroll in the orientation to the technology before the coursework begins to make sure you master these resources before you need them.
If you miss the routine of a traditional classroom, dedicate time, and a place for learning to create a new rhythm. No one can study effectively while being distracted by having to do other household tasks or constant interruptions by others, so schedule your coursework just as you would plan your time to attend a traditional class, and don’t skip it.
Make sure you understand the expectations of your instructors. Request clear guidelines upfront and ask questions if something seems murky. Getting an understanding early on about how often you should post on a discussion board if deadlines are flexible, and how to request additional guidance will help set you up for success.
Accountability to someone else is a way to keep from becoming your own worst enemy when keeping on schedule, so consider finding a study buddy in your online classes. You can retain your study system for structure, and having someone to check-in with and compare notes can also be a release valve for the pressure of having to create your new online learning environment.
Finally, here is a shortlist of indispensable tools to help you when it comes to staying organized.
- Asana - Designed for business but perfect for students. This project management software has a free version and works great for keeping to-do lists and tracking class projects.
- RescueTime - It costs a little ($18 per month), but it makes you much more productive. A small price to pay when you are already spending big bucks on your education.
- LastPass - You have a million passwords for a million sites, applications, and services, right? LastPass helps you keep secure track of everything and remembers all of your passwords for you. Brilliant!
- VAIO - The perfect laptop for back to school. If you are mobile because classes are on campus, or more-likely remote because you are at home, VAIO is the ideal computer to help you excel in your education. Built-in webcam means you can join virtual classes from anywhere. And super lightweight means you’ll be comfortable on the sofa, at your desk or wherever you may land.
Remember, while you may be isolated at home in a classroom of one, you are not doing this alone. Think of online learning as just a new skill set you and your classmates can - and will - master.