Strategies for Success in Online Courses

Succeeding in online education classes takes discipline and the right learning strategies. Follow these tips to maximize your online learning experience.

Start small. If you are new to online classes or if you haven’t been in school for a while, you should start out with just one or two classes to give yourself time to adjust. The online classroom takes some getting used to, as does higher education in general. Remember that online classes tend to be shorter than other courses, so you will not fall too far behind if you start out with a small course load.

Invest in the right technology. You probably already have all of the technology necessary to participate in online education. However, if your hardware or software is out of date, you should consider investing in updated technology. For example, you might want to purchase a computer with more memory or a more powerful processor for faster performance. Likewise, you should purchase all of the software your online school recommends for students. You can usually get these software programs at a discount through your school’s bookstore.

Be consistent. Succeeding in online courses takes persistence and consistency. You should get in the habit of logging into the online classroom on most days of the week. Even if you do not participate in the discussion or turn in any assignments, it’s good to log in to check for class announcements and read other students’ comments. The easiest way to remain consistent in your online class attendance is to set aside a block of time each day for your studies. For instance, you might block out an hour in the morning to attend class before you go to work.

Do the assigned reading on time. In a traditional classroom, it’s usually fairly easy to get by without doing the assigned reading for the course. Most traditional students rely heavily on the instructor’s lecture to learn the material contained in the reading. With online classes, however, this strategy will not work. Much of what you learn in an online class will come from the assigned readings, so it is up to you to read the material thoroughly and on time. Furthermore, when you complete the assigned readings on time, you will be better prepared to participate substantively in class discussions, which will also help your grade.

Communicate with your classmates and instructors. Although the learning process is much more independent with online education, this does not mean that you should be incommunicado with your peers and instructors. Take advantage of email, chat rooms, and discussion boards to stay in touch with your classmates and instructors about the material, assignments, issues with the course, etc.