Recently, there has been a growing trend in the prevalence of online classes at both the high school and college level. At the high school level, a growing number of public and private schools offer at least some of their classes online. This enables the school to offer a greater variety of elective courses and advanced level courses. At the college level, online classes offer students the ability to earn almost any degree from the comfort and convenience of their home.
During my former teaching career, I worked in a private charter school as a teacher and facilitator for online high school English and writing courses for over 200 students. Currently, I am a full-time student attending graduate school by taking classes entirely online. Online courses certainly come with an entirely new set of challenges. Adapting to online courses can be difficult, even for an adult learner. Having experienced the challenges of online courses from both the perspective of the teacher and the student, I would like to share a few tips for anyone taking online courses or considering taking online courses.
1. Time management is absolutely crucial.
It can be easy for many people to get distracted or put off work for online classes since the deadlines are often longer. Don’t. Establish a routine that you follow every day. Obviously, the convenience of online classes lies in the ability to get work done when you can, and that does not mean take a leisurely pace. It just means you have a bit more freedom to adjust your schedule to your convenience.
2. Your planner is your best friend.
As you will see in the image above, my planner is full. I still prefer a planner I can write in, but many apps will suffice for people who prefer that method. My courses are organized in modules for each week. The first thing I do for my courses on Monday morning is go through the module and see what is due. From there, I schedule posts and assignments each day based on when they are due and when I will have time. This practice works well because I have only to look at my planner for the rest of the week to know what I need to complete that day to stay on track. It also helps spread the work out over the week.
When I fill in my planner, I often create “assignments” for myself in addition to what is required that week. For example, if a paper is due in Module eight, and I’m currently in module 2, I might create an assignment like this: “find two sources for Module 8 paper.”
Also, check your planner everyday. Use it as a checklist, and check off what you have already done. Seeing your finished work will help you to stay motivated!
3. Don’t look at your deadline as a “due date.”
Let me explain. A deadline implies that you work toward something at a steady pace. That is what should be happening. The “it’s not due until midnight on Saturday” mindset is not a good one to have for online classes. It justifies procrastination, and trust me, procrastination is your worst enemy as a student enrolled in online courses. The stress and time constraint will cause you to produce lower quality work, and may cause you to overlook an assignment.
4. Try to get your work done early.
Technology is awesome, but we all know that sometimes things happen that we don’t anticipate. If a thunderstorm causes you to lose power for a few hours, you don’t want to be stuck with work that is now past its deadline. In the case of online classes, sometimes life distracts us, and that’s perfectly okay. Planning to finish work early in the week will allow time to deal with or enjoy those life distractions.
5. You are responsible for yourself.
Of course, this is true in a classroom setting too, but for many people, the anonymity of the internet makes it easier to shirk responsibility. This is your future, so take it seriously. Make sure to get plenty of sleep the night before you are working on your classes. You are graded on what you write, so always make sure it’s your best.
With a little bit of organization, self-discipline, and a lot of time management, online classes can work for anyone.