Essential Tips for Online Classes: How to Thrive in a Digital Education Environment
Posted on July 30 2019
That makes sense. Since the dawning of the formal education system, teachers have served as guides to students on how to be successful learners. And those teachers have almost always had an academic background in taking classes that look just like the classes their students take — in a traditional classroom.
Now, with an increase in students choosing online learning options, many students have found themselves without a guide. Even very well-intentioned teachers don’t always have the background in online education they need to offer good tips for being successful online learners.
But if you want to know how to be a great online learner, you’ve taken the first step: You’ve found this article. That means you’re being proactive.
ONLINE CLASS TIP 1: TAKE SMART STEPS TOWARD PROACTIVITY
Do you want to be more proactive? Do you want to control your learning rather than respond to crisis after crisis? Try SMART goals.
First introduced in 1981 by George T. Doran, SMART is an acronym-based strategy that can help you make and meet goals. Applied to education, it can make you a great online learner. To use this strategy, approach your online classes by creating goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
For instance, instead of saying “I will pass this online class,” say “To pass this online class, I will complete five lessons each day.” Instead of saying “I will earn a diploma online,” say “To earn my diploma online, I will complete two classes each month.” Instead of saying “I will work harder to communicate with my online teachers” say “To communicate with my teachers, I will send each teacher an email each day before 10 a.m. and will follow up with a phone call during their office hours.”
ONLINE CLASS TIP 2: KNOW WHERE AND WHEN YOU’RE GOING TO STUDY
One of the great things about online learning is that you can do much of it wherever and whenever you want. That allows a lot of students to put off work under the belief that they’ll be able to get it done later.
But once you’ve dedicated yourself to being proactive, you’ll soon realize that won’t work. That’s why scheduling a time and place to complete your assignments is so important.
Over-estimating the time you’ll need to dedicate to online courses is a good plan. It prevents interruptions or unexpected delays from getting in the way of your learning. Schedule these blocks of time well ahead of time.
A good study space is comfortable and relatively quiet. It’s also predictable — meaning you can safely assume that you won’t be interrupted when you are there.
ONLINE CLASS TIP 3: DON’T DO IT ALONE
Many people choose online classes because they feel like they work better when they are alone — and there’s nothing wrong with that. But no student should actually be alone when learning. (In fact, if you don’t have regular access to teachers, tutors, counselors, etc., you’re not in a very good online program!)
Use the resources you have, even when you think you don’t need them. If your teachers keep “office hours” — answering phone calls at specific times throughout the week, for instance — make sure you’ve scheduled a block of time to make a call, if only just to “check in.”
If you are in a cohort of other students, communicate regularly with those students to encourage one another and answer questions for each other.
ONLINE LEARNING — YOU CAN DO IT!
Online learning may be a different path, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easier one. It takes hard work and dedication to thrive in a digital education environment. But if you follow these tips for online classes, you can reach your goals!
• The American Academy: “How to eliminate study distractions”
• The American Academy: “Preparing for online tests”
• Frontiers in Education: “Applying best practice online learning, teaching, and support to intensive online environments: An integrative review."