Tips for Being a Successful Online Learner
Be Aware that Online Courses Force Students to Take More Responsibility for Their Education.
Be self-motivated and self-disciplined.
With the freedom and flexibility of the online environment comes responsibility. The online process takes a real commitment and discipline to keep up with the flow of the online learning process. Active participation is a key element of success when taking online classes.
Be able to communicate through writing.
In the virtual classroom, nearly all communication is written, so it is critical that learners feel comfortable in expressing themselves in writing. This takes some practice, but the more you write the better you get at it.
Be open-minded about sharing life, work, and educational experiences as part of the learning process.
Introverts as well as extroverts find that online learning requires them to utilize their experiences. This forum for communication eliminates the visual barriers that hinder some individuals in expressing themselves. In addition, the learner is given time to reflect on the information before responding.
Be willing and able to commit to 5 to 8 hours per week per course.
Online is not easier than the traditional educational process. In fact, many learners say it requires much more time and commitment.
Be willing to “speak up” if problems arise.
Many of the non-verbal communication mechanisms that instructors use in determining whether learners are having problems (confusion, frustration, boredom, absence, etc.) are not possible in the online environment. If a learner is experiencing difficulty on any level (either with the technology or with the course content), s/he must communicate this immediately. Otherwise the instructor will never know what is wrong.
Have access to a computer and a modem. Duh!
The communication medium is a computer, phone line, cable and modem; the learner must have access to the necessary equipment to succeed in an online class.
Accept critical thinking and decision making as part of the learning process.
The learning process requires the learner to make decisions based on facts as well as experience. Assimilating information and executing the right decisions requires critical thought.
Be able to think ideas through before responding.
Meaningful and quality input into the virtual classroom is an essential part of the learning process. Time is given to allow for the careful consideration of responses. The testing and challenging of ideas is encouraged; you will not always be right, just be prepared to accept a challenge. Teachers do NOT want students regurgitating course material, lessons and posted lectures back at them. We are looking for critical thinking and synthesizing that material into new ideas and thoughts based on that material.
High quality learning can take place without going to a traditional classroom.
The online learning process is normally accelerated and requires commitment on the learner’s part. Staying up with the class and completing all work on time is vital. Once a learner gets behind, it is very difficult to catch up. Basically, the learner needs to want to be there, and needs to want the experience. It goes back to taking responsibility for your learning.
More Tips for Success…
Contribute your ideas, perspective, and comments on the subject you are studying, and read about those of your classmates. Your instructor is not the only source of information in your course–you can gain great insight from your peers and they can learn from you as well.
Take the program and yourself seriously.
Elicit the support of your colleagues, family, and friends before you start out on your online adventure. This built-in support system will help you tremendously since there will be times when you will have to sit at your computer for hours at a stretch in the evenings and on weekends. When most people are through with work and want to relax is most likely when you will be bearing down on your course work. It helps to surround yourself with people who understand and respect what you are trying to do.
Make sure you have a private space where you can study.
This will help lend importance to what you are doing as well. Your own space where you can shut the door, leave papers laying around, and work in peace is necessary. If you try to share study space with the dining room or bedroom, food or sleep might take priority over studying.
Log on to your course every single day.
….or a minimum of 3-5 days a week. Once you get into the online system, you will be eager to see who has commented on your postings and read the feedback of your instructor and peers. You will also be curious to see who has posted something new that you can comment on. If you let too many days go by without logging on to your course discussion group, you will get behind and find it very difficult to catch up.
Be polite and respectful on the discussion board and whenever interacting with other students and/or instructor.
Just because you are anonymous, doesn’t mean you should let yourself go. Remember, you are dealing with real people online. Being polite and respectful is not only common sense, it is absolutely obligatory for a productive and supportive online environment. In a positive online environment, you will feel valued by your instructor, valued by your classmates, and your own work will have greater value as well.
Apply what you learn.
If you are able to apply everything you learn as you learn it, you will remember it more readily. If it is possible, take the things you learn in your online course today and use them in your workplace tomorrow. Also, try to make connections between what you are learning and what you do or will do in your job. Contributing advice or ideas about the real-world as it applies to the subject matter you are studying helps you to internalize what you are learning.
College-level work should be thoughtful reflection and assessment of the published materials you have gathered for study, written in your own words… not merely a “cut and paste” of that material.
Reflection and summary represent critical thinking skills; “cut and paste” constitutes plagiarism. You must give credit where credit is due.
Now lets look discuss how to navigate Blackboard and the key components you as students need to know about it.
CHECK CLASS ANNOUNCEMENTS ON A REGULAR BASIS
Be sure you familiarize yourself with the various links to your class. Review your assignments, the Syllabus, Lectures, course materials and the discussion board. Every online instructor uses these links in different ways as far as what they expect from students. Some course like mine have weekly discussions where as others may assign homework essays through the assignment manager.
Be aware that these button names can be changed to whatever your instructor wants to call them. Course Documents may be called Lectures or Modules and Staff Information may be the faculty members name or About Your Instructor.
THE DISCUSSION BOARD IS ESSENTIALLY THE ONLINE CLASSROOM. THIS IS WHERE A GREAT DEAL OF THE LEARNING CAN OCCUR HOWEVER IT IS UP TO YOU THE STUDENTS TO ENGAGE EACH OTHER IN THE SPECIFIED TOPICS AND BRING NEW IDEAS TO THE BOARD INSTEAD OF JUST REGURGITATING THE TEXTBOOK READINGS AND/OR COURSE LECTURES BACK AT EACH OTHER AND YOUR INSTRUCTOR – I AGREE WITH WHAT YOU SAID OR GOOD JOB JOHN DOES IS NOT CONSIDERED CRITICAL THINKING AND WILL NOT GET YOU A GOOD CLASS PARTICIPATION GRADE.
Google Docs and Student E-Mail – Pre-Ah Hill DL Instructional Technologist
Accessing Student Email
Accessing Google Docs
Part III – Hands-On