As more and more colleges announce plans to move courses online this coming fall, many of you are adjusting to the idea of online learning comprising a significant part of your college education. For some, this news might come as a welcome relief. Others might feel concerned, since online learning isn’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea.
These common mistakes are part of the reason that online learning feels so challenging to some students. Avoid them, and you can maximize your course experience.
Viewing online courses as “easy”. If driving to campus and finding a parking space would normally pose your largest challenges, then it might be true that online learning is “easier”. For everyone else, however, online learning requires more independent effort. Don’t make the mistake of not taking your courses seriously.
Time management. Flexibility can be one of the strengths of online courses, but for some the lack of physical structure encourages procrastination. Establish a schedule for yourself, and devote time for your online courses the same way you would for in-person classes.
Ignoring the syllabus. For classroom courses, many instructors spend the first day of class reviewing the syllabus. This can help you to plan your entire semester and know what to expect from the course. For some reason, online learners often overlook the syllabus and simply dive into the course without taking advantage of the ability to plan the next few months. Make sure you spend time reviewing the syllabus, and create a personal calendar that incorporates all major benchmarks from each course.
Ignoring your own learning style. Some students find online learning a challenge because independent study doesn’t exactly suit their unique learning style. If you need the give-and-take of a classroom experience, investigate how each instructor chooses to operate their online course. Identify those that incorporate more video learning and Zoom chats. Establishing a small in-person study group can also help.
Securing back-up Wifi. Make a plan for those days when technology fails you, so that your study schedule is never compromised. Identify at least one alternate location that you can study in the event that your Wifi is interrupted.
Overlooking instructors. On most college campuses, students endeavor to learn about potential instructors before enrolling in their classes. But with online learning, few undertake this level of investigation. It’s still important to ask around about an instructor’s teaching and grading style, so that you can enroll in the course that is a good fit for you.
Not asking for help. Because online learning feels so much more independent, you might feel as though you shouldn’t ask for help. Luckily, online instructors are just as receptive as traditional classroom instructors. So if you need help, it’s just an email or chat message away.