While the learning outcomes are the same, studying for and participating in online courses is a little different than for those held on campus. So what are the differences? We've outlined them below.
Online courses typically have minimum participation requirements for students. This means you’ll have to participate in classroom activities like discussion posts and online exercises each week. These activities require thoughtful participation and planning. Because the format of online courses is different than on campus courses you will be writing your discussion posts – and they will stay there for the duration of the course. In addition to having good thought-provoking content (per your professor’s requirements of course) you’ll need to be certain that what you write is grammatically correct and without spelling errors.
You have a lot to juggle – family, work, friends and college courses. Make certain to manage your time well. Thoroughly review your course syllabus to understand how much time your course requires and when, then chart out how you’re going to divide your time across all your obligations. Make sure to think about how you can divide things into blocks of time. What can you accomplish during your lunch hour? How about when you’re at the baseball field with the kids? By breaking up the things you need to accomplish into smaller blocks of time it often makes it easier to do.
Keeping track of everything you have to do makes it easier to get everything done. I keep a book for each course where I outline assignments and activities by week. Creating this outline allows me to fully understand how much time each activity will take and to see what I have to accomplish within each week. Then, when I have time to work on my coursework, it’s easy to pick which task will fit the time I have available. There are also some great apps you can use to help track your activity. You can check out our blog post about 10 apps for online college students we think are pretty fabulous.
Online courses require a lot of self-discipline. You decide when and where to study and when to ask for help. There’s no one asking you how your work is progressing or reminding you of deadlines. It’s incredibly easy to skip an evening of coursework and end up at the end of the week with a lot to do – and little time to do it.
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