Sunday, December 4

How Students Can Maximize the Potential of Online Classes

Online Classes

Some people prefer online learning, whilst others are transitioning to it later in life. Either way, learning remotely gives busy people the chance to drive their careers forward, without making the kind of sacrifices that in-person classes demand. There are many different programs to choose from, and this style of learning is flexible enough to suit every learner. If you’ve always wanted to further your education, but hoped to finance your studies through work, online learning is ideal. You will gain the skills and knowledge you need, but the impact on your lifestyle will be manageable.

A chance for graduates to change careers

Distance education is also a great way for people who already have a first degree to retrain. You can choose to study, for example, nursing or medicine, and, with some courses, you’ll qualify for a leadership role upon graduation. Learning how to be a nurse practitioner online with Elmhurst University allows you to study when it is convenient. Their accelerated programs include a practical residency experience and are designed especially for people with a degree in a subject other than nursing. Although this method of learning is incredibly convenient, online programs do call for dedication in a student.

As you become a distance learner, here are a few tips for success that will help you get to graduation.

Design a timetable to manage your work

Along with a weekly calendar that helps you stay on top of things, a semester calendar that keeps you informed of longer-term goals is important. Start by reading through the syllabus you have been given on the first day. Then go to your individual calendars and enter the exact dates that your work will be due in, along with earlier reminders to prompt yourself. Once that is complete, break your schedule down even further by committing to study on certain days for a set number of hours. Establishing a routine is one of the best ways to avoid missing deadlines and maximize the free time you have.

Find out how your course will be delivered

If your course will be run in real-time, it is synchronous. That means all the teachers, instructors or lecturers attend the online sessions from their location at the same time as the students do. If you are signed up for one of these courses, you’ll have a more structured schedule, but you’ll need an excellent Internet connection. The alternative is asynchronous classes, which are more popular and provide a more relaxed way of learning. You and other students will be given access to learning materials from any location and for extended periods. This gives you a lot more flexibility, but you’ll need to stay focused to do well.

Be ready to prioritize your workload

To get the most pressing tasks completed on time, being able to prioritize your work is crucial. Each week, consider the dates you have written on your schedule and which ones will be the first to come along. Furthermore, if you are pressed for time, it’s worth knowing what information you’ll need for your next tasks, and making studying your main concern. When it comes to prioritizing, making the smartest decisions is a skill that you’ll need to refine over time and with experience.

Remain organized at each stage of the course

To increase your ability to focus on work, prepare your study materials in the way a teacher would. If you imagine having to convey this information in a clear, concise format to others, it can give you a better understanding of the material. Start by organizing the various strands of each subject into outlines, guides, and charts, depending on what works best. You can then move on to collating maps of your concept and maps for each chapter or section of the essay or coursework. To test yourself and gain a more masterful hold of the topic, try a few practice exams to check your skills under pressure. Memory blocks can be a common problem, but simply move on to another question, and you’ll soon remember the previous answers.

Be part of the student community

Although online study puts a sense of distance between you and the tutor, as well as the rest of your class, there will be opportunities for interaction. Even if it feels like extra effort, getting involved as often as possible can be a motivating experience and drive you to perform well. Show up for your tutorials on time, reach out to tutors when you need to, and be an active participant in the forums.

By discussing the program and the issues it raises, you can gain more insights and learn from the opinions of others. You’ll also get an idea of what the class as a whole thinks of a particular essay question, so you don’t find yourself going off on a tangent and wasting time. In the same vein, you can discover which texts and source materials inspire your class, and then devote time to exploring them.

Learn to take notes effectively

Different people have different methods when it comes to note-taking. The important thing is to absorb the information you are being given, and then jot it down in a way that you can understand later. To a certain extent, settling on the right method for you will be a matter of trial and error. Nevertheless, some general points are helpful for everyone. Primarily, it will help you cover more ground if the notes you take are made up of concepts and phrases, rather than full sentences. If a word adds no meaning, leave it out.

Secondly, take notes that make sense to you. Paraphrasing general information in your own words is helpful, just note technical or discipline-based terms so you can look them up later. Finally, leave spaces in your pad for updates and comments. These can be added a day or a week later to clarify or develop an idea.

Maintain a high level of engagement

At a physical university, you have to be there at a set time each day to complete your education. Online, the experience of learning can feel more relaxed, but remaining fully engaged is still vital. When a lesson is coming up, sit down and prepare yourself by reviewing any course material you’ve been sent. Once the class starts, be ready to attend on time and take notes throughout. If you have any questions, write them down in advance so you don’t forget to ask the tutor or put the query out to the class. Additionally, feedback can be difficult to manage when it is not complimentary, but read the tutors’ comments and use their words to plan your improvements.

Look after yourself and stay healthy

Online study does present a set of unique challenges, but by thinking about your end goal, you have more chance of remaining motivated. It helps if you also take care of yourself, mentally and physically. Set aside time for cooking healthy meals, doing some exercise, and relaxing. Be sure to wind down before bedtime, and get adequate rest so you have enough energy for the next day. Spending time with friends, family or pets can also reduce feelings of anxiety, as can treating yourself occasionally. Whether it’s a luxurious bath, a box of chocolates, or even some new clothes, mark each educational milestone by rewarding yourself.

Set weekly goals for yourself

If you are going to work, socializing with friends, and spending time with your family every week, the time you have for studying can soon shrink. The best way to compromise is through careful, realistic planning. Set aside enough time for everything you need to do, and try to stick with it. Not every goal has to be huge or particularly tough, but, by planning ahead, it becomes easier to keep on top of things. You may have to be flexible, but, once you’ve achieved something, tick it off your list and move on. Evenings and weekends can be good times to catch up, but if you work unusual shifts, your spare time might be in the mornings or afternoons, either way — don’t give up!

Create a study space that’s yours

We all find peace in different surroundings, so your ideal study space could be an outbuilding, the dining room table, or an alcove under the stairs. Wherever you can concentrate, set up a desk, and do your work is good enough. You’ll need enough light, a comfortable place to sit, and enough space for your course materials. Other than that, try to minimize distractions, but keep a good Internet connection on hand for cross-referencing ideas and research.

Find yourself a study buddy

If you are lucky enough to be starting an online course at the same time as a friend or relative, you have a ready-made study buddy. They are there to provide a sympathetic ear when you need a boost, and you can return the favor when things get overloaded. As well as having shared goals, learning alongside others can be fun, and you can offer free feedback on each other’s work! Some people find they work harder because they don’t want to let down their buddy. You can also have regular chats about the deadlines you have coming up so neither of you forgets an important date. If you don’t have a human companion, lots of students find comfort in having their pet around for a study session. You can also meet new people through the course, and start a study group.

Create a routine for study days

Procrastination affects most people who work or study from home, but there are ways to stay focused. Writing out the times you will study and the times you’ll take a break can be a good place to start. Once that routine is in place, it becomes easier to stick with. Try to treat study days as you would a workday — with small breaks and a lunch break to refuel. When it’s time to work, put your phone on silent, go to your study space, and get started. Start by taking a look through the material you want to cover and work out which areas will need more attention.

Pace yourself and avoid cramming

Not many people can study effectively for hours on end, so be sure to break the day up by having a hot drink, browsing your socials, or taking a short walk now and then. If you find your concentration lagging when you should be working, just get up for a quick stretch or gaze out the window. By pacing yourself, you have a chance to clear your head and are more likely to be productive when you get back to work.

Use your support network

Balancing your social life with your course commitments is always going to be hard. However, by keeping in touch and staying connected, you’ll never feel alone. Bring the people you care about on board at an early stage, so they understand you are working hard and can support your efforts. Sometimes it’s difficult to accept support, especially for people who tend to be independent, but it can give you an advantage. Relatives who invite you over for dinner and friends who watch your children give you free time to study, so appreciate their kindness and make a mental note to repay it when you can.

Be kind to yourself

People come into the online study from a range of personal circumstances and backgrounds. They will have various learning styles, and their strengths and weaknesses will also be different. Try to take this into account when you start a course and don’t compare yourself to the rest of the class. People find their feet at different times, and gaining confidence is also an individual experience. You won’t be the only one with doubts in the early days, but the university staff, your peers, and your family are all there to ensure you succeed.