Online learning is convenient in that students around the globe can access any college regardless of its geographic location. This means that online learning has opened doors for more opportunities than there were before. This, however, doesn’t mean that it’s a walk in the park. There are serious considerations you need to make, and dedicated effort on your part. The following is a basic guide to navigating online learning.
Table of contents
- 1 Conduct Online Research
- 2 Invest In Quality Equipment
- 3 Create A Conducive Environment
- 4 Figure Out Your Productive Hours
- 5 Discover Your Favorite Mode Of Learning
- 6 Get Technically Comfortable
- 7 Make The Most of the Platform
- 8 Close Irrelevant Tabs
- 9 Form Study Groups
- 10 Check-In
- 11 Manage Your Time
- 12 Be Self-Motivated
- 13 Hold Yourself Accountable
- 14 Communicate Efficiently
- 15 Consider The Time Difference
- 16 Be Physically Active
- 17 Rest
- 18 Revise your Work
- 19 Manage Stress Levels
- 20 Persevere
- 21 Conclusion
Conduct Online Research
Before you consider distance-learning, you need to dedicate some time to research. It’s important to know the various colleges that engage in online learning and the resources that they provide. For instance, you need to compare the costs of the different colleges. This will help you to determine a budget and to choose colleges that are aligned with that budget. Online costs vary; they may include tuition fee, program maintenance fees, and technical fees. Once you have an idea of how much you are willing to spend on online learning, you can go on to assess the colleges that are within your price range.
You need to see whether the available colleges are accredited, the courses that each of them offers, how long these will take to complete, and the grading/certification systems. You must compare all the various aspects of distance learning, so that you enroll in the best possible program for you personally.
Invest In Quality Equipment
Once you’ve decided to take part in distance learning, you need to make sure that you have the equipment required for quality service. You’ll need a quality internet connection as well as an efficient laptop. Slow internet connections or laptop devices may disrupt your lessons and impede your overall progress significantly. You should also make sure to have stationery for note-taking and revision, as you might benefit more from writing down your notes by hand.
Create A Conducive Environment
You’ll need to create a conducive environment for your online studies. Conducive environments differ between individuals, and you’ll have to figure out the type of space in which you are most productive. This may be in the form of a desk-set in your room or lounge, a favourite spot on the couch or even an outdoor space. You should try out different settings to figure out which one works best for you.
Figure Out Your Productive Hours
The advantage of distance learning is that it’s a more flexible mode of study. You can fit learning hours into your schedule and lifestyle, rather than the other way round. Different hours of the day may be more productive for you than those dictated by traditional educational institutions. Perhaps the early morning hours when it’s quieter work well for you. You may discover you work better when there’s noise and distraction around you, or you prefer to learn just before you go to sleep at night. You will have to try out different schedules before you get comfortable with a certain set of hours.
Discover Your Favorite Mode Of Learning
Online platforms provide multiple learning options. You can enjoy your lessons via video chats, live online sessions, audio and text for example. This allows you to explore the different learning modes and to decide which one work best for you. A combination of a few is ideal, depending on the subject and topic. It will take some navigating to get used to the different styles and material available.
Get Technically Comfortable
You need to get used to learning digitally. Spend some time experimenting with different apps and learning websites that you’ll have to use in the future. If there are group settings that you’ll need to operate when interacting with teachers and fellow students, you should practice using these before you’re required to do so. Getting comfortable with the various technical demands of online learning means that you’ll save time when you’re in-session.
Make The Most of the Platform
Most online learning platforms implement various features to make the process as easy for you as possible. For example, you may be encouraged to download certain apps on your computer for easier access. Explore these options, and make the most of the channels provided for easier use. Make use of the help or support centres that are set up to attend to any queries that you may have. You shouldn’t feel as if you don’t have any assistance, as these platforms are designed specifically to cater for the students.
Making the most of the platform includes seeking extra academic help. You’ll likely have access to online tutors, who can help you with difficult concepts. Your college might be creative, and include non-academic programs also. For example, there may be a wellness program in place, or an arts and culture section for recreational purposes. You should join these sub-communities, and make use of all the programs that are available to you.
Close Irrelevant Tabs
When you’re engaged in online learning, you need to make sure that you don’t have any distractions open on your laptop or chromebook.. This means closing any other active tabs, so that you’re not drawn to them. For instance, it isn’t advisable to have your Facebook page running while you’re logged into your student portal. The minute that you receive a message, you’ll be tempted to go and reply to it, meaning you’ll be distracted for some time. Make sure to separate social media from your learning time.
Form Study Groups
The one downside to online learning is that you may feel as if you’re isolated, compared to traditional learning where you’re surrounded by classmates. However, you can still form study groups using the online tools available. These groups help you to see other perspectives of a topic or theme, understand objective points of view and get extra help from those who’ve grasped concepts that you may have struggled with. You’ll feel less isolated when you have a group of friends that you can interact with in your own time.
On days when you’re not online, you should make it a habit to log in regardless and check-in. There may be important notices, reminders and instructions that you could miss out on if you don’t log in for a few days. This doesn’t mean that you should log in for hours every day and check everything meticulously. It’s just a practice that will ensure that you’re up to date with important announcements on a daily basis.
Manage Your Time
The fact that you’re in charge of your schedule means that you need to manage your time. It’s easier than you’d think to procrastinate to the point where you suddenly realise that your finals are soon, and that you haven’t studied. This means that you’ll need to catch up on learning and studying materials rapidly to prepare for your exams. Time management requires assessing your schedule and prioritizing your obligations. You should always keep study close to the top, so that it won’t be overlooked.
Online learning requires high self-motivation. You need to be driven, and committed to following the schedule that you’ve made for yourself. Some of the ways in which you can motivate yourself when you don’t particularly feel like learning include listing your goals, watching or listening to motivational videos and engaging in activities that motivate you to work. Exercise in the morning is a fantastic way to motivate you for the day ahead.
Hold Yourself Accountable
The results of your online learning are up to you. You won’t be in a position to cast blame on an inefficient platform, unavailability of material or lack of communication as this is hardly the case. Institutions that provide online learning make sure that the system is efficient and encourages only the best results. You need to hold yourself accountable for your successes and drawbacks, because the tools to help you excel are available, and if you find that one isn’t then you have the entire internet in which to find it.
Make sure to communicate with your teachers and tutors when you need to. Unlike traditional set ups of colleges where teachers may not even notice your absence, online learning requires you to communicate. Your teachers may think that you’re up to date with the material when that might not be the case, and move on; you need to learn to speak up when you don’t understand something.
Consider The Time Difference
When you are communicating on a platform that caters to people all around the globe, you should consider the time difference. You may need to contact a teacher who can only get back to you the following day, and knowing this will help you to plan for it by contacting them earlier. There are, however, twenty-four-hour support services where you can communicate and get responses at any time of the day, depending on the system’s set-up. Being mindful of this dynamic will help you in your communication strategies.
Be Physically Active
Sitting hunched over a computer for long periods of time is not healthy for your body. You
may experience swollen feet as a result of inactivity, a painful back and shoulders as well as worsened eyesight. Make time for activities such as stretching, going for a walk or doing exercise. Make sure that your chair is a comfortable one; consider getting a desk with a footrest.
It’s easy to binge on learning when studying from the comfort of your home. You need to remember that rest is just as important as studying. If you don’t rest, you may experience mental fatigue and fog. Make sure to get quality sleep, stay hydrated and engage in activities other than online learning. When you are rejuvenated, your mind gets into a state where you can more efficiently process the information that’s being given to you.
Revise your Work
Online learning doesn’t mean that the only time you dedicate to studying is the few hours in which you’re actively engaged on the school portal. You also have to look over what you’ve learned outside class-time. Find the revision methods which work best for you. Some of these methods include flashcards, past exam papers, audio work and looking through your notes. Revise your work continuously throughout the semester, as it will help you to avoid last minute panic-revision when the exams roll around.
Manage Stress Levels
Online learning can become overwhelming. You may get stressed over the amount of information and material presented to you. You must find ways to manage your stress levels; otherwise, you'll experience a burnout or mental fatigue. Some of the ways in which you can manage stress include meditation/breathing exercises, taking a nature walk, socialising, enjoying entertainment or - if you find yourself particularly overwhelmed - seeking professional help through therapy and counselling.
Always persevere to the end, even through times when it seems like there’s no end in sight. The journey of academics isn’t always easy, but it is doable. Keep your goals in plain sight, and do everything that it takes to reach them.
The convenience of online learning is such that you can learn at any institution that you wish. When you consider online learning, you should dedicate time to doing quality research. Once you're committed to a program, invest in quality material and equipment for a productive learning process.
Create a conducive environment and figure out your most productive hours. Discover your best modes of learning, and make sure to explore the technical side of online platforms before having to use them. Make the most of the experience, and close irrelevant tabs on your computer. Form study groups, check in with your teachers and manage your time. You have to be self-motivated and to assume responsibility for your progress. Efficiently communicate with your team and teachers, keeping in mind the possible time-difference.
In terms of your wellness while engaging in online learning, make sure to stretch as you
study, to rest and to revise your work when you have time to do so. It’s crucial to manage your stress levels, so that you maintain good mental health. If you're experiencing intense stress levels, anxiety or depression, then you should seek professional guidance and take a well-needed break.