Taking An Online Class

If you are working on an online masters degree this post may be useful to you. We are going to cover some of the things at you can do to help you succeed in an online class. There’ve been lots of things written on how to succeed at college but not very many of them are focused on how to succeed in taking classes online. It’s significantly different when you’re trying to study online than when you’re taking a traditional class that has the classroom, students you can talk to, and a teacher at the front room.

1. Keep a detailed schedule of your online class

First of all you need to be very careful that you understand the schedule. In an online classroom you can be easy to overlook when something is due or miss an important date. Make sure you have some type of calendar for your course work that you can write down anything that the teacher says is due. You don’t want to get in a situation where you accidentally missed something. In a traditional classroom you have other students to help remind you. You’re likely to run into them in class and outside of class. Most of us can remember a time that we went to a regular classroom and heard another student mentioned that they were studying for an upcoming test and it reminded us about the test which we had forgotten about. Those type of situations don’t happen in an online classroom–release they don’t happen as easily. So take very careful notes about exactly what is due and when it is due. It’s also a good idea to keep a copy of the syllabus  with the schedule nearby so you know exactly what to expect when. Keep in mind that you’ll be juggling a lot more things than a college student living on campus. There’s a lot more to distract you. You may have your full-time job, family commitment, kids, a spouse and all kinds of other things that she’ll be doing at the same time you take the class. Don’t rely on your memory. Make sure you write things down in a way that you won’t forget them.

It’s a good idea to have some type of notebook that keeps track of everything you need to do. That way if you’re watching online video and the teacher mentions that something is due you have a place to write it down with all the other deliverables you need to keep track of. Just make sure you check this regularly for anything that is coming up that you might have forgotten about.

2. Follow on the directions

The second area we want to talk about is following directions. It’s amazing how many students in an online class simply can’t follow instructions. You got it. The teacher has hundreds of students are dealing with and many of them can’t seem to follow the simple instructions are given on how to turn in homework, how to work their way through their class, etc. This is got to be extremely frustrating for the teacher. It’s a breath of fresh air when they find someone that can actually follow the instructions they are given.

One of the downsides of an online education is that you are more of a number and less of a person to the teacher. Maybe it shouldn’t be that way but it is. The teacher is more likely to get more slack to somebody that they know personally was attending a class than someone who gave only receive e-mails from over the Internet. That’s another reason you need to be extra careful to make sure you follow instructions. Make sure you know exactly how the homework is to be turned in. When it’s to be turned in, what you need to be doing toward your coursework, etc. You also need to make sure you keep track of everything that is necessary for graduation. You don’t want to get to the end of several years worth of study only to discover  that you’ve missed some important step at the very beginning that will prevent you from graduating.

For example some schools have a residency requirement that you need to keep track of. Other schools have limitations on how long you can take the completed your greed program–if you take longer than five years you may have to retake the classes you took at the beginning. There are all kinds of little things like this you need to keep track of. Make sure you’re paying attention to them or you may be in for some unwelcome surprises right around the time you think you’re going to graduate.

3. Get to know your teachers of your online class

Third, you get to know your teachers. By making a little bit of effort to be more than simply a person acting in an e-mail you can establish a report with your teachers that may be very beneficial in all kinds of different ways. As mentioned before teachers are more likely to be gracious with someone that they actually know than someone who’s just an e-mail address to them. If you can make an effort to meet your teachers and person that’s ideal. For example if you happen to be going to the town where the university is located, you might make an appointment to stop in and see each of your teachers were 10 or 15 minutes. It may be wise to stop in and see the teachers and classes you plan to take as well just to say hello, get to know them, and possibly ask any questions you may have.

This doesn’t have to take a lot of time. You don’t need to occupy the teacher’s entire day. However just being a face to go along with the name can be very valuable for you. Most teachers are happy to meet the students that they deal with over the Internet.  A lot of teachers became teachers because they liked the interaction with the students, meeting them in person helps them maintain this interaction in a world where everything is done over the Internet.

4. Keep good records

You need to make sure you keep good records. Just because your classes are online doesn’t mean that everything is going to get recorded correctly. You need to have good records of everything. Make sure you keep copies of your transcript. It’s also a good idea to keep copies of your homework in case something gets lost.

One area of record-keeping that many people pursuing an online degree overlooked is the degree requirements. Often the requirements are listed on a webpage somewhere. Simply bookmarking these is not the same as keeping a record. You should print out the degree requirements and anything else that tells you what you need to do. That way the changes you have the printed copy to go back to to show them that you are actually doing what was expected for your online degree. For example some schools may change the classes that are required. Most of the time this isn’t an issue–they keep track of who enrolled when and make sure that you’re taking the right classes. However don’t rely on them to get this right. Make sure you have what you need to prove that you’re doing what you’re supposed to do.

I can think of one example from an online masters degree I recently completed. Halfway to the degree I noticed that the options had changed. They now required that your first three classes be specific classes. You can just take the classes that you felt were most appropriate for the first three. Fortunately I have a printout of the original instructions and when I talked to the people in the office they said that they did not apply to me because I have enrolled previous to the new rule. It’s always better to make sure you have the documentation to prove what you’re doing is right than relying on someone saying that you’re an exception to the rule.

5. Networking with your online class

The fifth area we want to talk about his networking. One of the downsides of an online degree is that you may develop fewer networking relationships with your teachers and other students. You have to be much more intentional about the people you meet in maintaining contact with them. They can be very helpful to get the instant messenger IDs and e-mail addresses of people in the classes you’re taking. Keep up with them during the class. Sometimes just having someone to talk over homework with can be very helpful here it even if it’s just a matter of saying I found problems at three to be extremely difficult how bout you. They may say all I got was difficult Intel I read chapter 5 or something like that.

Your interactions with these people should go beyond the single class you’re taking with them. Keep in touch with them and see how they’re doing. When you finish graduation talk to them and see what their plans are. Get on some type of schedule where you touch base with them on a regular basis. These are people that will be diverse in their geographic location and many of them you may never meet in person. Still it can be very beneficial to have that relationship with them because you may be able to help each other significantly in the future.

They can also be a good idea to keep in touch with teachers. Sending each of your teachers a thank you note after graduation and letting them know about your plans can be a simple way to make the teachers day and also keep you in their mind.  You never know when an acquaintance will know about a great job opportunity or something else that can help you in your professional life.

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