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  • Writer's pictureTori Cliff

How to slay in online learning environments

Updated: Apr 8, 2019

Online courses save drive time and perhaps classroom instruction time, but they take additional time for reading, studying, researching, and reviewing materials. If you’re a procrastinator, divorce yourself from that lifestyle stat. It’s not a good look, and will waste your time and money, particularly on the graduate school level. A solid graduate degree will require your very best effort.

The key to successful online learning is self-control, discipline, self-care, organization, communication, and time-management. Obviously you need intellect, and motivation is great, but when motivation wanes, discipline and systems are a great weapon to keep persisting. These are tools and skills that if practiced and utilized, reduce stress and increase success. For more helpful info, check out my blog posts Deadline city: how to organize your time for college success and Powering through busy seasons: the value of a Top Priorities List.

So let's get started.

Tech Exploration:

Don't wait; get to know your tech requirements and become familiar with them ASAP. Does your computer and internet meet system requirements? Do you need a good headset with microphone? Do you need Cloud space (the answer to this is always, YAS!) I recommend Google Drive and Dropbox. Then a flash-drive. Then save to your computer. In this order. It all starts with the Cloud. Period.

Digital Classroom: Explore the learning environment thoroughly. You may have video tutorials available (perhaps even on YouTube) on how your learning management system works. Each learning management system is a bit different. Get in to your class shell and dig around. What’s available? How does the interface work?

Ask questions after you thoroughly review the digital environment, assignment specs, or documents provided, if you lack clarity. Don’t ask your professor until you’ve read and explored the material thoroughly though. Instructors work very hard developing online content. It’s there to be used. So, use it, then ask whatever questions might still be looming.

Edit Like a Banshee:

Edit all work, submitting only your best. This requires margin-time, not last minute work, so build in margin. Margin is your friend. Plan that things will take a bit longer than you estimate. If they do, no sweat, you had the margin time built in. If you finish early, great, use the time for something else you need to do, or for self-care.

Utilize Support: Your institution likely has robust online library resources. Get familiar with the site and how to best use search tools.

You may also have access to free online tutoring through your university.

Sites like Grammarly can help you polish written pieces by provide writing tips.

Sites like Purdue Owl can help with citations.

Network with peers: But they're online. How will I get to know them? The answer is simple. Use tech. Get to know your classmates. Don’t be afraid to ask for contact info and initiate study sessions or collaboration when appropriate. If they're within driving distance, maybe physically getting together is best.

But, if distance is prohibitive to face-to-face study sessions, no sweat. Tech like Google Hangouts or Skype are extraordinary ways to communicate via video chat with a group, and they are typically free.

Tech like #Slack is dynamic and allows excellent project management and team communication tools. All of these tools are typically free.

Embrace Hard Work:

This will be hard. It's supposed to be. That is what makes it valuable. Not everyone can do it. Can you? The only way to figure that out is to embrace the intensity, and give it all you've got. Work smart. Use the advice of those who have already done it.

How do you tackle online learning environments successfully? What's in your arsenal?

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