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1. Devote consistent blocks of time to the class
It can be tempting for students to delay working through the course material, thinking they’ll find time later in the week. But online coursework is like exercise – you never find the time for it, you make the time for it. Schedule consistent, multi-hour blocks of time during the week that you can devote to coursework and adhere rigidly to this schedule.
2. Communicate regularly with the teacher
It’s important to ask questions when the material or assignments are unclear and discuss larger assignments. Students who fail to get their questions answered and concerns addressed often fall behind quickly and significantly.
3. Engage with your classmates
Don’t limit your discussion postings to responding to the prompts posted by the instructor. Add your own insights and questions to the discussion.
4. Begin your work early
In an online class, particularly for first-time students, there may be technical difficulties to overcome. Take the risk of these difficulties into account, and give yourself time to acclimate to new software and hardware. Further, give your instructors a reasonable amount of time to answer your questions. In an online class, exchanging emails or arranging phone conversations takes time. In short, expect that you will encounter hurdles when completing the work and leave yourself time to overcome them.
5. Create a regular study space and stay organized.
Set up a dedicated learning environment for studying. By completing your work there repeatedly, you’ll begin to establish a routine. Experiment to discover which type of setting boosts your productivity.
6. Eliminate distractions.
From Netflix to social media to dishes piling up in the sink, you’ll be faced with many distractions that can easily derail your studies. The best online students know how to lessen these distractions and set aside time to focus.
Exactly how much of a challenge these distractions will prove to be will depend on your own unique personality and situation. Some might find that they can tune out a noisy home by listening to music. Ultimately, you will need to find a strategy that works best for you.
Regardless of where you choose to work, consider turning your cell phone off to avoid losing focus every time a text message or notification pops up. And if you’re still having trouble resisting the temptation to check your email or surf the web, try downloading a website blocker. Using applications like Cold Turkey and Freedom can help eliminate distractions by blocking the apps or websites that tend to compete for your attention, such as Facebook and Twitter.
7. Figure Out How You Learn Best
Once you’ve established where you’ll learn, think about when and how you accomplish your best work. If you’re a morning person, make time to study first thing. More of a night owl? Set aside an hour or two after dinner to cozy up to your computer.
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.
8. Actively participate.
Participate in the course’s online forum to help you better understand course materials and engage with fellow classmates. This might involve commenting on a classmate’s paper on a discussion board or posting a question about a project you’re working on. Read what other students and your teacher are saying, and if you have a question, ask for clarification.
And if you do feel yourself falling behind, speak up. Don’t wait until an assignment is almost due to ask questions or report issues. Email your teacher and be proactive in asking for help.