The following information is most beneficial to students taking courses online.
In my years of working with students in online courses and having taken online courses myself, I understand how difficult it can be to find time to dedicate to online courses when working, having a family at home, and other responsibilities that come with the many roles we take on. Here is my advice:
- Read the Syllabus – A course syllabus is your best friend. Sometimes it can be difficult to read or navigate a syllabus online so I suggest printing it off or requesting a copy in Word or PDF format so that
- Make your own calendar – Do not simply rely on an electronic calendar that is online within your course whether it be through Canvas, Blackboard, or another online platform. Have a monthly calendar that you write down all of the important dates of the course on. Write down: the day of the final exam, the date a project is due, dates of papers due, quizzes, etc. Also, write down any: events that occur in your personal life, daily activities, travel plans, work events, etc. that fall within the time frame that you are in an online course. This will allow you to more adequately budget your time between your personal/work/school obligations.
- Communicate with your instructor — Don’t feel bad about contacting an instructor to ask a question or multiple questions. You would do this if you were in an actual classroom setting and it is to be expected. However, do not expect the instructor to respond to you at all hours of the day, every day. While you may not be able to see them, they are human too and have other obligations as well J
- Connect with your classmates – In an online course there are discussion forums you post weekly and engage with fellow students. Go beyond the discussion boards and contact your fellow classmates via e-mail, through the online course platform, and use a common space/message board for questions. Chances are you are not the only person in the course with a particular question.
- Plan ahead – There is a lot of material presented in online courses often within a short amount of time. It is of the utmost importance to be organized and stay on top of coursework from week to week. Make sure you are aware of what is due each week, the following week, and for the month, if not the quarter.
- NET-iquette – Remember to be respectful to instructors and classmates in online courses. I hate to have to remind students of this, but when communicating electronically people generally feel more comfortable being a little bit more verbal or expressive than they would be in person. This can result in negative e-mails and communication between individuals. My biggest advice is looking at the “tone” of your e-mail or message prior to sending it. Ask yourself if it is something you would have said in an actual classroom setting, or does it sound a bit harsh, etc. If you have any bit of reservation then either do not send the e-mail/message or revise it to be more diplomatic.