Studying online is convenient and saves time because you can study at home or from work. But it is demanding in other ways. You need to be especially disciplined and organised.
Here are my top 5 tips for successful online learning.
Tip 1: Establish a schedule
To study consistently well, it is essential to establish a solid routine. It helps if you do it early in the course, perhaps using a study planner.
Distance courses usually don’t have regular classes that give you a natural structure and timetable. So you have to establish a routine of you own. It needs to fits into your lifestyle, be sustainable over the long run, and provide enough study time each week.
As a guide, you should log on to your course a minimum of 5 days per week. A course unit with an Australian university typically requires at least 6 hours of study a week. So it’s not smart or effective to leave the coursework until deadlines arrive. It’s good to do some work each day, just as you would in a traditional course with regular classes.
Tip 2: Be fully committed
Students often assume online programs require less work and are easier than on-campus courses. In reality, online classes are designed to be equally as rigorous and demanding as traditional courses.
Australian universities typically require distance education students to cover the same material and sit the same exams as everyone else.
Successful online students often comment that you need to be professional and even a little selfish. It is easy to slacken often when studying online. People you live with and other activities can encroach on study time. Prioritising your online course will help ensure you get good results.
Tip 3: Use all the material provided
Online instructors often give you more material than you need to complete graded assignments. You should cover all of it or, at least, as much as you can within your allotted study time.
Don’t run through a course with frequent skipping of videos, animations, and ungraded self-assessment activities. These are meant to help you achieve course-learning objectives. Even if something doesn’t have a grade attached, it offers supplemental learning and helps you prepare for exams.
Tip 4: Have a solid computer setup
The computer requirements for online courses are identified in program information. They are usually not difficult to meet. You don’t need much more than a laptop and Internet connection.
But it is smart to buy good quality (modern) hardware and software and have a fast, reliable Internet connection. Having your own (not sharing) computer equipment is also recommended because it lessens technical risks and gives unlimited study time.
Learning online requires a significant investment of your time, not to mention course fees. It would be wasteful to compromise your study efforts by having a slow or unreliable computer setup.
Tip 5: Be a good online communicator
When doing an online course, you don’t get the chance to have casual conversations with other students before class or catch the instructor after class. So it is important to embrace online communication, which includes email and posting to student forums.
Good communication helps clear up problems. It also helps keep you engaged and motivated. You can even make online friends.