Realistically, the web-learning process can be a taxing one, even on the best students. Since most students who participate in courses such as this are non-traditional it may be harder for them to find the time, realize their own learning weak points and strengths, and manage the everyday tasks they face. Things like work, family, emergencies and technology pose a series of hurdles that must be dealt with in a responsible and logical manner. Also, auditory and kinesthetic learners may have a hard time since the course will involve a great deal of reading-to-learn.
On the other hand, once a student has participated in an online class it becomes relatively easy to understand the demands. The student is not subject to the uncertainty of navigating through the course, making sure everything is done properly, and communicating with their instructors and fellow students. Instead they can focus on the tasks that need to be completed in future classes or decide that electronic classes are not compatible with their learning style.
In order to succeed, online students must have a good sense of their own skills. By taking a personal inventory they can determine if they are ready for this type of learning.
1) One of the first things that should be done, and is the most overlooked, is communicating with the household. It is very difficult for online learners to focus on their assignments if they are being interrupted by loud noises, children, spouses, pets, etc. If the student does not have the support and understanding from those closest to them they may face undue stress. Discuss with these people the importance of the class, the time you will need to work on it, and create a compromise where the student will have the necessary time but the household will not be ignored.
2) Students should be able to keep themselves calm and organized. By creating a series of labeled folders/notebooks, keeping materials all in one place, and setting aside a portion of the day to study and participate they can reduce the stress they will face.
3) It is also good judgment to have an idea, or a list, of people, places and books that you can reference if extra help is needed. These can be the instructor, other students, family, friends or resource centers.
4) In order to help organize the next several months, it is recommended that the student print out the class syllabus/guidelines and a list of assignments and their due-dates and hang them above the computer or study area; as tasks are finished cross them off and record the score received.
5) Before the class begins, the student should access the online learning center/webpage and introduce themselves to the class and instructor. There may be a Discussion Board set aside for this purpose or the student may want to send an email to the teacher. Teachers take notice of students who try to reach out to them and admire students who are putting in an honest effort to understand.
6) If possible, the student should begin the first assignment at least a week before the start of the term. This will help bring out any misunderstandings, questions and confusions. The student will be able to have these issues addressed quickly instead of waiting for the class to begin. It takes time to communicate via the internet and the problems may not be addressed until the end of the first week. By then the student may be a week behind.
7) During the student’s study/participation time they should create a pattern (or a schedule) to follow. Always start by organizing the materials and becoming comfortable in the workspace. The student should not start working until they are sure they will not be interrupted and they need to take measures to enforce this. Then read over the assignment for the day. Understand key terms and concepts, what the assignments are asking the student to do, and what other tasks (such as discussion board posts, emails, etc.) that are required.
8) Finally, the student should always be looking for ways to improve their environment, organization, and study skills. They should find what works for them! The learning process will be different for each participant. Every person will develop their own organizational skills that suit their environment and situation. If the student is consistently attempting to improve themselves both academically and personally they will grow as a lifelong learner.
If the student feels like they are falling behind they should:
Do what comes next.
Check it off.