How do I succeed in an online course?

Once you've decided on which online courses to take, the hard work really begins. Even though online education has a lot in common with traditional classroom learning, there are some adjustments you'll need to make to adapt to this independent learning environment. Here are four tips for success:

  1. Participate. Online classes require a steady stream of student participation to keep information flowing and interest levels high. Each individual is responsible for part of that, including you. Don't be afraid to ask questions and offer new perspectives; you never know what riveting, helpful discussions may result. As a bonus, the more engaged you are, the more you'll enjoy the class Û and the more you'll learn.
  2. Proofread. Since nearly all of your assignments and discussions for online courses will take place within the learning management system, it is important you are careful about how you express yourself. Yes, you should watch for typos and grammatical mistakes, especially when writing to your instructor, but also pay attention to phrasing and try to anticipate whether something you've written could potentially be misconstrued. Without verbal cues, emails and other written communication can sometimes come across differently than the sender intended, so be sure to reread your message before hitting send, reply, or upload.
  3. Be patient. We live in a nearly instantaneous society, but with online courses, you have to learn to deal with delays. While your instructor and classmates are sure to be as prompt as possible in their responses, you have to anticipate they are often on a different schedule than you are. Try to be patient as you wait for responses, work on other course requirements and assignments, or otherwise fill your allotted study time with course activities. Don't use the delay as an excuse to skip a study session.
  4. Manage your time well. While online education is often touted as the more flexible and manageable option for working adults and non-traditional students, it's important to remember the large responsibility the student bears in this type of independent learning environment. Without pre-determined class times and professors standing in front of you several times a week to remind you about assignments, good time management will be vital to your success. Therefore, it is essential to set up a personal schedule that works for you. If you devote a set amount of time to your studies on a regular basis, and stick with the plan, you are much more likely to succeed.

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