Online learning can be more convenient, effective and rewarding than traditional classes, but convenience doesn't mean it's easier. "Successful online students need to be proactive in their studies and take responsibility for their own learning. It takes self-discipline and time management to do your best. When the student is engaged, the learning can be significant and the experience fulfilling" (Hillesheim, 2010).
Five ways to be an effective online student:
- Focus on how you learn best:
Find out if the course delivery and materials are a good match for how you learn the best. Online learning often has several added options available. These options include: watching, reading, hearing, and interacting with other students and the instructor without actually ever meeting them in person.
- Budget your time:
As a general rule, for every credit hour, allocate two to three hours a week for study, homework, reading and research. This is in addition to listening to or watching online lectures. Establish a study schedule and stick to it. For those juggling work, family and school, consider posting your school schedule at home and work so that your family and colleagues know when you're committed to studying.
- Create a dedicated learning space:
Since you aren't going to class, it's important to find a place to do school work - somewhere that's comfortable, well-lit, and free from distractions and has the necessary technology, resources and supplies. Consider your home office or set aside a corner of your family room or bedroom to study. Those who are taking online courses should have their own home computer.
- Follow the course schedule:
Even though you don't necessarily have to be in a classroom at a specific day and time, make sure you review the course syllabus, highlight important exams and deadlines, and post in your dedicated learning space. Online courses should have discussions weekly just as traditional courses do. Participate as though you were in the classroom.
- Know how and where to ask for help:
Online students have access to most of the same services as on-campus students such as the registrar’s office, career services, academic advisors, library and financial aid.