In many ways, successfully learning online is no different than learning in person: you still need to dedicate a significant amount of your time, consistently attend your classes, concentrate while studying, and fully commit to your learning process.
When you take an online course, you are also expected to do the following:
Technology glitches happen all the time. To avoid mishaps, ensure that you save your work repeatedly, and backup regularly using Google Drive or another cloud storage service. Ensure you can access your work from your smartphone or tablet, if needed. Make a backup of your online course material and assignments in case you lose connectivity.
Wherever you decide to study, ensure that this place is quiet, organized, distraction-free, and available for use at any time. Your study environment should be one of your main concerns when you are an online learner; make sure that it enables you to maintain a good study routine. Ask your friends, relatives, and colleagues to respect your “work mode,” and consider turning off your phone and logging off of all social networks when studying; you will want to be neither interrupted nor distracted.
Procrastination can be a particular challenge for online learners. Make sure that you stay organized, and you are not falling behind in your online class. If you are having difficulties submitting your assignments on time, contact your instructor and let them know, so that they can help you create a consistent study routine.
While it may be constructive to look for answers to your online course-related questions independently, hesitating to contact your instructor when you are stuck may be problematic. If you don’t ask for help when necessary, you may end up falling behind, which may lower your self-esteem, as you may not be able to keep up with the course.
By asking your instructors to clarify problems, you will also help them not only to evaluate learners' level of understanding of the online material, but also to get an idea of the overall effectiveness of the online course. Keep in mind that if you don’t ask for help when you need it, your online instructor may never know that something is wrong.
Consider asking for help in the course forums or in another way that is open to the whole class. Your classmates may have similar questions or difficulties; asking your question aloud can help everyone.
Your performance will decrease if you are feeling tired or frustrated while studying. Integrate some personal time into your study routine, and you will be able to work more effectively on your online course goals. When taking a break, make sure that you get away from your study space; you need to have a change of scenery. A mild physical activity, such as a walk around the block, will help you maintain balance, renew energy, and go back to studying with a clear mind.
Online learning doesn’t mean learning in isolation. Connecting with your classmates on social media or your online course’s forum will significantly enhance your experience. (This can be particularly true for introverts, or others who find self-expression challenging in face-to-face learning.)
Participate actively in online discussions and group activities, suggest study tricks, offer your input on the course, and engage in new ideas. Just ensure that you are mindful of your tone; be respectful when you disagree with other members of your online group, and always write in complete and clear sentences to avoid misunderstandings.
In addition to using social media and course forums to stay connected, keep in mind that Mount Holyoke has expanded the messaging features available in Moodle, and that the Moodle mobile app is available to you as well. It’s one more way to reach out to your instructors and your classmates!
Finally, don’t underestimate the effort needed to fully commit to your online course. To make sure that you stay motivated and engaged in your online learning experience, consider following these tips: