Top tips to get the most out of your online study
Online study is an amazing option for getting an education without being limited by geography or a rigid schedule. Increasing numbers of adults are choosing to pursue online certifications, diplomas or degrees to open themselves to new professional horizons. However, while we’ve all been students before and experienced classroom learning, many people don’t realise that online study is a slightly different experience requiring a different mindset and skillset. We’ve compiled some top tips to help prepare you for this unique experience.
Confirm the technical requirements
Reading this article is a good first step, but readying yourself for this learning experience will require taking some more concrete actions. To start with, it’s essential that you understand the technical requirements of your courses. If your computer doesn’t allow you to access the course materials or to use all of the online tools, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Set realistic expectations
Next, even before you sign up for your courses you should do the groundwork of figuring out where you’re going to fit your study into your daily schedule. Make sure you know how many hours per week of study are required for each course, and don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can get your coursework done in less than the estimated amount of time. You’ll thank yourself later if you’re realistic now about what you’ll be able to manage.
Understand the structure of your courses
Before you start your course you should have a grasp of the technicalities of studying online. Look into how to contact your instructors, access library facilities and online materials, submit coursework, and access group discussions. Also, take the time to research how each of your subjects will be assessed. Are there specific times when you have to be online for an assessment? Are there any contact hours at all? Are there specific times each week when all the students need to be online for seminars or discussions? It’s incredibly important to be sure that these required times will fit into your daily schedule.
Find your study space
The world is your classroom when you’re doing online study, but it’s probably obvious that some places are more conducive to study than others. Before your course begins you should have an idea of where you work best. Find somewhere that is free of distractions. If you know that you can’t concentrate when you’re around friends because you get pulled into spirals of funny YouTube videos, commit to studying on your own and meeting up with friends after. The guidelines you set for yourself from the beginning are more likely to stick than if you try to change your habits partway through your studies.
Connect with other students
Generally, online study will provide you with chat rooms, social media groups or forums to connect with other students in the same courses. This can do more than help you make friends – you can form study groups, ask each other questions about the coursework and work together on assignments. Additionally, connecting with other students going through the same struggles of balancing online study with day-to-day life can help you to stay on track. They may introduce you to new ideas of how to manage your time or provide support and commiserate with you about your struggles.
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