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How to get the most out of your online course

Everyone wants to be an A+ student. But when learning online, it can be easy to lose track of motivation and progress. Here's how to kick it into high gear and keep those gains coming!

How to get the most out of your online course

Everyone wants to be an A+ student. But when learning online, it can be easy to lose track of motivation and progress. Here's how to kick it into high gear and keep those gains coming!

No matter how well you've set yourself up, we've all experienced times when we lose motivation or track of our progress. (Psst! This is where you should be referring back to your objective statement!) But how can you ensure you continue getting the most out of your online course?

There are a few steps you should have visited before taking an online course. Let's revisit them:

  1. Understanding the pros and cons of online learning
  2. Selecting the right online course for you
  3. Learning how to learn online

There are a few practices that will help keep you on track as you're working towards completing your online learning experience! Let's review them.

Tips to maximize your online course

1. Check-in on your schedule.

Sometimes the course may be more or less work than you anticipated. Make sure to keep your schedule (whether physical or digital) flexible, and continue to block out the time you need to attend classes, reflect, do homework, and study.

2. Connect with fellow students

Isolation is a huge concern with online learning. And you may miss out on a wealth of knowledge from your classmates if you don't make an effort to connect with them. Make sure to carve out time in your day to connect with your fellow classmates where possible. Consider creating an online study pod where you all study together (even silently) over video calls. You might also use a study pod to deepen your knowledge on specific topics and answer course questions together.

3. Keep your communication appropriate.

While some courses may be more formal than others, make sure to match your instructor's level of professionalism in communications. Online learning has many lessons regarding remote etiquette (learning when to turn your camera on and how to collaborate over messaging tools like Slack). Take advantage of these lessons and adjust your online communication per channel.

4. Take advantage of all of the benefits.

Outside of the course material, many courses offer additional benefits like feedback, class outings, extra credit work, or projects. While it can be tempting to consider these as nice-to-haves, you should try to do as many as your schedule allows for.

5. Ask questions

Is something not working, or is a piece of the course content not making sense? Speak up! Reach out to your instructors and fellow students to resolve the issue and deepen your learning experience. Only you are responsible for your learning success. So that means if there's a challenge or problem, you have to be the one to solve it.

6. Treat online classes like in-person ones.

The disconnect between your home setting and your online classroom can impact your work ethic. While you may think it's a good idea to work in your pajamas or cook while you're listening to a lecture (who doesn't love a good multitask?!), your mental space tends to be different and not set up for absorbing or processing information.

Try to respect your own at-home workspace as much as possible and treat it like an in-person classroom. So that means:

  • Getting dressed
  • Working from a desk or table
  • Giving the class/work your undivided attention
  • Being present; responding to discussions, and asking questions
  • Keeping a routine

7. Stay accountable to your goals.

Regularly refer to your objective statement. Week by week, you can break your progress up into goals that you'd like to reach by the end of the week or month. Check-in with these and measure your progress. You might even consider reaching out to a fellow classmate to share your goals with as an "accountability buddy". That way, you have someone who might keep you accountable (and you can keep them responsible for theirs!).

Ready, set, STUDY!

The world of online learning is exciting and, remember, how vast—you can learn anything from social media management to yodeling. And while there are a ton of advantages to online learning, it also has some challenges.

And repeat after me: online courses are not like in-person courses.

Good. We've got that one out of the way. Besides being a different kind of learning, you'll have to spend some time selecting the right course for your needs, prepping for your first day, and checking in during your study to stay on track.

It's not easy, but you got this. (And you can always refer back to this little document whenever you need a little refresher.) So get out there and surprise yourself with all of that new knowledge!

Adrie Smith

Author

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