Online learning comes with many benefits, from flexibility to affordability, but like any learning environment, you must be self-motivated to succeed. This is especially true as an online student, because you study and complete assignments on your own time, largely unsupervised.
For someone who has never taken online courses before, the process of learning online can raise questions. How do I attend class? Turn in assignments? Work on group projects? If I have a question, how do I raise my hand? Fortunately, the activities we took for granted in high school have a virtual equivalent — most, if not all, housed in a learning management system such as Blackboard Learn, which UA Grantham uses.
These kinds of systems provide the virtual classroom you need to access materials, participate in class discussions, talk to professors, and even view your grades.
It’s all about ensuring you have the tools you need for a smooth and meaningful online experience. So, here are seven great tips to help you navigate an online learning environment.
- Set up shop. Most importantly, make sure you have consistent access to a computer and reliable internet connection. Figure out where and how you work best. Is it at your home office, with zero noise and distractions? Is it at a coffee shop, with your headphones on, surrounded by the buzz of conversations? There is no wrong answer, as long as the environment is conducive to your learning. But wherever you study, always have a good backup plan.
- Be prepared. Online learning requires organization. This starts with knowing what you’re getting into. Before your course begins, read the syllabus and your instructor’s bio for an idea of what to expect. It’s also helpful to have your instructor’s contact information handy. Throughout the course, make sure you read all announcements, participate in discussions, and do the readings and assignments. And keep all deadlines in mind.
- Learn the system. Once you’re set up in the system, watch a tutorial to learn the logistics of your online classroom. Take advantage of all available orientations and training modules, and note where to locate resources like online libraries and research databases. Also, you may experience technical problems at some point, so it’s a good idea to locate any tech support resources now, and always watch for announcements about outages and maintenance.
- Schedule your studies. Specific login times aren’t typically required, but you will encounter deadlines. That’s why your time management skills are essential. Find a groove that works best for you, but ensures you avoid procrastination and stay engaged in class. Establish rules for yourself, and your family, for study time. Set reasonable expectations for study hours and stick to the plan. Consider a digital calendar for ongoing reminders.
- Take initiative. Unlike on campus classes, there is no hiding out in the back row of a virtual classroom. Everyone participates, and it’s up to you to stay involved. Engage in online discussions with your peers and share your thoughts in a respectful, constructive manner. If you have a question, use email, chat or phone calls with your instructor and peers. Your online learning community will only be as strong as the effort you invest in it.
- Log in daily. Even if not required, setting a regular login routine is an excellent habit to form so you don’t miss important updates or helpful discussion posts from your classmates. Sign in at least once a day, even if you don’t have an assignment due, to stay in the loop and on top of your studies.
- Use your resources. As an online student, you have access to countless resources at your fingertips, from tutorials to webinars. Use them. UA Grantham has on-demand tutoring services, an extensive online library and career services. And never underestimate the power of support from your family, friends and co-workers. Their understanding and assistance is critical to your success.
Is Online Learning Right for You?
If you have the drive and determination to earn your degree, you can be a successful online learner. UA Grantham is here to help with unparalleled student support. Choose from more than 50 online degree and certificate programs and start working toward the career you want, on your schedule. Learn today. We’re ready when you are.