The COVID-19 outbreak has led instructors and students alike to change their approach to education. In some cases, students who once went to a classroom have transitioned to online learning. And some students preparing for college have decided to forego traditional classrooms and instead study online.
In either case, students have concerns about how they can succeed when they study online. The tips offered below by Marian University Professor Polly Manske are designed to address some of those concerns and help students excel in online courses.
Manske is part of a faculty at Marian University who understands the unique challenges online students face, as well as the many benefits they can enjoy. Based on years of experience in online education, the university developed the MPath online learning system that offers student-centered online degree programs with a focus on student success.
Marian University students receive support throughout their educational journey. This applies to bachelor’s and master’s degree programs as well as certificate and licensure courses.
As the world works to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus, schools at all levels have prepared to take school online. The following applies to students looking for best practices to follow when they study online.
Steps to Success In Studying Online
Marian University Professor Polly Manske is an MPath and Competency-Based Education (CBE) expert. She recently spoke about tips to help students succeed when taking courses online.
Organizing Your Home and Schedule
Manske listed this as the No. 1 priority. In this case, organization involves building out an academic schedule for the day, week and month. Make sure to put it into your calendar so you can track your progress.
Another part of organizing is dedicating an area in your home as your school workplace. Also, find a device you can use exclusively for school (or, at least, almost exclusively). That eliminates the challenge of trying to maintain your academic schedule while sharing the computer with everyone else in the house.
Organize Learning Materials
Organize all online learning materials by creating an electronic folder system that is labeled by course or topic. Whatever document labeling system you use, keep it consistent. Also, ensure that you have files backed up in the cloud or on a flash drive.
Be Present in Class
With most classes offering asynchronous discussions allowing you to log in and listen to lectures and collaborate with peers in at your own convenience, you’ll still want to schedule time to participate in these discussions two to three times per week. This typically only requires a small chunk of time, around 30 minutes.
Carry A Book Everywhere
You never know when the opportunity to do some reading might present itself. As Manske pointed out, that includes “doctor’s office, club basketball games, picnics, heading to Menards with your husband.”
Make Time For Friends and Family
The key here is to be intentional about spending time with your family and your friends. Rather than saying “I need to study,” Manske suggests you say something like, “I’ll have my project wrapped up at 8 p.m., let’s make popcorn and watch a movie then, you pick!” And then be present during that time, rather than still having your mind on schoolwork.
Develop a Note-Taking Method
Everyone has their method for taking notes. Find the one that works for you and stick with it. If you can annotate text digitally, that’s great. But if your method requires printing hard copies, that’s all right, too. Manske said that whatever your method, the key is to “take the time to take good notes and organize your thoughts as it will make assignments/application of learning much easier.”
Make Peer Connections
The MPath system provides ample opportunity to make connections with other students. It is important to take advantage of that and build relationships with classmates. There are many benefits from doing so, including finding “study buddies” who you can talk with about coursework or work with on specific projects.
Stay In Touch With Instructors
Never hesitate to ask a question! Marian University professors are dedicated to supporting students and helping them navigate any issues, including answering questions, reteaching, pointing you in the right direction, cheering you on or answering career questions. Also, reach out regularly to advisors to stay on top of issues such as programmatic requirements and registration dates.