• How to be Successful in an ONLINE class…

  • Here are the top tips for being successful when taking a class that is online, whether it is an NCVPS or PCC class. These tips have been vetted and adapted from universities like Villanova, Northeastern, and Illinois University. Taking an online course gives you a lot of flexibility in where and when you do your coursework. That flexibility, however, means you have to take some extra steps to be successful. You have to be proactive about creating some of the structures you get naturally in a face-to-face course. 

     

     

    • Take the course seriously!

     

        • Want it! Want the grades bad enough to obtain success through any (ethical) means necessary. It's imperative to read more, listen closely, collaborate, and keep in close contact with online teams, professors, and peers.
        • Treat the course as a job! Have set work times, use professional etiquette when communicating with instructors and classmates.
          • Login regularly to your classes. You will be expected to log-in multiple times per week and perhaps every day.
          • Use proper etiquette when emailing or responding to emails. Check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  Only use “tasteful”  pictures of yourself or your work.  Once posted, those images are there forever.
        • Be mentally engaged, even if it means watching videos or reading articles several times to understand what the instructor expects you to know.
        • If you’re having trouble holding yourself responsible, pair up with a fellow classmate, or friend to check in as an accountability partner. By being organized, proactive, and self-aware, you can get the most from your online class even when life outside of school becomes chaotic.

     

    • Notes, Resources, and Studying

     

      • As with any course, but especially for an online one, it’s important to stay organized. Organize all of your files in a way that makes sense to you. 
      • Make a study plan! At the beginning of each term, take the time to plan readings and work on assignments. Regularly adjust the plan if necessary, it will help keep you on track.
        • Think about when and how you accomplish your best work. If you’re a morning person, make time to study the first thing. More of a night owl? Set aside an hour or two after dinner to cozy up to your computer.
        • Make your usual study snack, put on your go-to playlist, and do whatever you need to get into the zone and down to business.
        • Not everyone learns the same way, so think about what types of information help you best grasp new concepts and employ relevant study strategies. If you’re a visual learner, for example, print out transcripts of the video lectures to review. Learn best by listening? Make sure to build time into your schedule to play and replay all audio- and video-based course content.
      • Don’t forget to take good notes while doing your readings or watching online lectures just as you would in any other class.
        • Write down important points. Just like in a traditional classroom setting, taking notes may make it easier to remember the important pieces of information you will need to retain.
        • It’s also wise to keep a copy of anything you submit in the event that a technology problem requires you to resubmit it—even your discussion forum posts.
      • You have the entire world at your fingertips. You can research entire events from history in color, or have a renowned mathematician take your hand and work you through a problem, or a scientist explains to you how exactly your solar system works. Use your time and resources wisely. 
      • Figure out as early as possible all of the technologies, websites, and campus resources you may need to use in the course and master them. Ensure your computer is working well, install any needed software, and verify your browser is up-to-date. If the course will use special tools, test them out early to ensure they work on your system so you can focus your attention on course materials, and not be distracted by technology problems.

     

    • Distractions
      • Limit Social Media.  There are enough distractions in the real world. You don't need to add more in the virtual world. It's easy to lose track of time scrolling through your friend's vacation photos, checking your streak on Snapchat, who has posted on IG or reading all of your favorite comedian's hilarious tweets. TIK TOK will not help you get course credit.
      • Turn off or Mute the phone and other notifications.
      • Allow quiet time to focus. 
      • Create a space of peace. You need to designate an area that is free of distraction. When diversions are present, it may reflect in a poor quality of work; hindering your education. 
      • Discussing your "quiet zone" with your family or friends may be beneficial as well so they understand that your time is crucial to your academic success.
    • Time Management
      • Make sure you are able to follow deadlines and due dates. Check your syllabus. Deadlines can be deadly in an online course! 
        • Set a strict guideline on assignments. If an assignment is due on a Monday, do not wait to do it until Sunday night. It creates unnecessary stress and anxiety. 
        • Procrastinators may find it difficult to stay up-to-date with lectures and readings, significantly reducing the quality of their individual learning experience. 
      • Flexibility is often one of the biggest appeals of taking online classes. But that freedom can also be detrimental if you do not have solid time management skills. Without them, you might easily find yourself cramming before classes or handing in subpar assignments.
      • Look at the syllabus at the start of the semester and make note of major assignments. Mark them on a calendar you check regularly so you know what workload is coming in the weeks ahead. Don’t forget to factor in prior commitments that may interfere with your regular study schedule, such as club meetings, working hours, family time, so you can give yourself enough extra time to complete assignments.
      • Create a weekly schedule that you follow, designating certain hours each week for reading, watching lectures, completing assignments, studying, and participating in forums. Commit to making your online coursework part of your weekly routine, and set reminders for yourself to complete these tasks.
      • When working on your assignments, try time-blocking, allotting yourself a certain amount of time for each task before moving on to the next one, and setting a timer to keep you accountable.
        • Break assignments into smaller chunks.
      • Check-in periodically throughout the term, and look at how you’re spending your time. Ask yourself: How much time am I dedicating to course reading and assignments? Am I regularly underestimating the time it’s taking me to get things done, forcing me to cram the nights before the exams? A little self-reflection and adjustment can go a long way.
    • Making Connections
      • Be willing to speak up if problems arise or if you have questions. Many of the nonverbal communication methods that instructors use in determining when students are having problems (confusion, frustration, boredom, absence, etc.) are not possible in the online class. If you are experiencing difficulty at any level (either with technology or with the course content), you must communicate this immediately. Otherwise, the instructor will never know what is wrong.
      • An important part of the online classroom is classroom participation and discussion. In order to fully comprehend certain material, it is sometimes necessary to see another person’s point of view on the subject matter. Talking to other students by messaging or posting comments can sometimes open a student’s mind to other opinions or help them understand an assignment. Students learn from each other and cooperative learning is the same online as it is in any traditional college.
        • Digital contact with others has the same social requirements as non-digital contact. It is important to be civil and polite with teachers and classmates to ensure a healthy learning environment for everyone.
      • Join a Study Group. One of the best ways to be successful is to group together with some study buddies. These study buddies can be invaluable for surviving and passing online courses. They are there for each other to bounce ideas, work out task requirements, cram for exams, and to remind one another that it will all be worth it.
      • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you don't understand, just ask. The instructors are there to help. Failure to ask may cost you a good grade on an assignment.
    • Stay Healthy and Reward Yourself
      • When you do well, celebrate your successes!  You passed, or got an A, on an assignment that you worked hard to complete, kick back and celebrate!  
        • Some people create a personal reward system. Ask you counselor how to create one.
        •  It always seems to be easier to motivate ourselves when we know there's something waiting for us at the finish line.
      • Our brain can only work to its fullest if our body is well. Have regular breaks that involve exercise and fresh air and eat good food!
      • Take frequent, short breaks. The mind becomes a little bit numb after an hour of looking at the computer screen, so stepping away and taking a few minutes to yourself is a way to rejuvenate your brain.
        • Schedule breaks of 5 or ten minutes between study time. It helps you get a breather and grab a snack or use the bathroom. You stay on track while also getting a few minutes of peace and relief.
        • Word of caution - don’t let the breaks become a distraction or a source of procrastination.