Maybe you’re not near one of our campus locations—or maybe online learning is just a better fit for your busy life. I love that our school offers the opportunity to study online, and that so many people take advantage of the enormous benefits of learning online. But whether you’re brand-new at using the technology or an online collaboration pro, it can be tough to get your bearings when you first jump into the online learning world.
Stevens-Henager’s Online department is designed and structured to support you through every step of your online education*, but you need to bring something to the table too! Here are some tips for orienting yourself and making the most of your online education.
Create a community.
In the online classroom, you’ve got unique opportunity to create a strong and focused community. Get to know your fellow classmates by making sure you introduce yourself. You want to talk about your background, your experience, your expectations from the class and what you hope to offer. And then make a point of reading your classmates’ posts and commenting on them. It’s so important to communicate and interact with your instructor and other students.
Learn how to learn online.
It’s not just pressing buttons and uploading files—learning online means learning valuable new ways to collaborate and communicate. Practice expressing your opinion clearly and succinctly, and supporting your opinion with evidence. Think carefully about how you respond to other people online, your tone and your word choices. And remember to think before you hit Post or Send!
The key to making your learning experience smooth, organized, and much less stressful is understanding your study environment. Take the time to learn how to navigate around your learning environment, figure out where to find your classes and class materials, technical help, where to ask questions, and how to access the library.
And before every new class, make sure you’re clear on what’s expected of you, and how to meet your responsibilities. In other words: read the syllabus! Make sure you also know when and how to submit essays, how and when and how often you should be accessing your discussion group or forum, and how to contact your instructor. Figure out how the course is structured, and you won’t get lost.
Most importantly: stay organized. Keep all your course materials in one place, save your essays and tests in clearly-labeled folders, and set calendar alerts for due dates and exams. When you’re organized, it’s so much easier to stay on top of the work that’s coming your way.
Take advantage of your resources.
Your instructors are the experts to whom you have access—they can answer your questions not only about the course, but also about the subject you’re studying, and the real-world applications. Your teacher is there to help you understand and benefit from what you’re learning. So ask questions!
And don’t forget your most valuable resource: your fellow students. One of the great advantages of taking an online course is how easy it is to talk to the other students in the class. You are valuable resources for each other not only for class and technology questions, but also as connections in the real world.
Reward yourself: you’ve earned it.
Online study is a challenge that requires you to be self-motivated, requires discipline, and requires that you believe in yourself and your abilities to accomplish your goals. So it’s important to acknowledge when you’ve done just that—when you’ve reached an important milestone, achieved something you’ve set out to do.
Rewards can be small, like a candy bar when you’ve completed your scheduled study time for the week or finished an essay, or large, like a beach-town getaway when you’ve successfully passed a course. Giving yourself rewards is a great way to motivate, but it’s also an important way to stay aware of your strength, your ability, and your success.
For more suggestions about studying for online courses, check out this blog post from Alan Hansen, Executive Director of the Online department of Stevens-Henager College. And let us know in the comment section below–what other tips do you have for learning online?
*Online programs are offered by Stevens-Henager College Salt Lake City/Murray.
Sara Nelson is the Social Media Guru for Stevens-Henager College, overseeing the college’s profiles on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and more. She is also a student in the Master in Business Administration (MBA) program, and she enjoys spending time with her family, listening to good music, and eating freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.