Be Successful with Online Learning
Be Successful with Online Learning
With the ever expanding reach of the internet and proliferation of internet devices, online learning has become an increasingly common form of education. How you approach your online learning course will determine your success.
Don’t Presume Online Equals Easy
While online courses offer many advantages over traditional methods, do not assume the content will be easier or less comprehensive. Oftentimes an online course is more comprehensive due to the additional regulations placed upon online providers to earn accreditation.
Keep a copy of the Course Orientation handy to double check policies and procedures for completing the course, taking exams, and using the different resources available for assistance. Be sure to check out the objectives provided at the beginning of each unit and make sure you can fully explain them before moving onto the next unit.
Be Realistic with your Expectations
With online learning, you are in control of when you ‘attend’ class. There is a reason that most traditional classroom schools do not schedule 8-hour classes –sustaining concentration for that long is nearly impossible for most people. So don’t plan on spending your entire Saturday working in your course. Break your study times into manageable 1 – 2 hour ‘chunks’ throughout the week with a 5 – 10 minute break every hour to step away from the computer. To maximize retention, make sure you are ‘touching’ the course material daily – whether you are delving into new content or just reviewing what has already been covered.
If a course is written to be a 48-hour course, plan 48 hours of study time. Even if you can read the entire course in half that time, your retention will be lower than if you spend the actual time. It is difficult to pass any course – regardless of delivery method – if you only attend half of the time.
As with any other long-term goal, if you miss a day or two of scheduled time, do not take it as a failure. Get back on schedule as soon as you can.
Take it Seriously
Just because you can study on-the-go does not always mean you should. External distractions can diminish your ability to retain new or complicated material. Designate a study area so you are mentally prepared to learn each time you go to that area. Use your on-the-go time for reviewing past material. Spotty internet coverage while you are away from your study space? Download your textbook to read during those times or review notes you have taken while reading the course.
Establish a support network before starting your course. Make sure your family and friends are aware you are starting a new challenge and are willing to honor your time commitments and be available as sounding boards as you are learning new material.
As everyone who has touched a computer or used the internet knows, technology is not infallible. Sometimes computers crash, the internet acts in strange ways, or signals can be lost at inopportune moments. Do not allow a technology issue to sideline your education. Plan to have your course completed well before the expiration date and, when possible, plan to take course final exams during your school’s office hours when tech support is easy to reach.
If a technical issue does occur, notify student support right away so they can begin troubleshooting. Anticipate some time for them to look into the issue and respond. If more than a re-boot is needed, it could be 24 hours for the issue to be resolved.
Be an Active Participant
The more senses you get involved with your learning, the higher your retention rate. Don’t just read a screen, but take notes on what you read. Writing the information in your own words triggers deeper thought. It also lessens the chance you will skim over important information. Read some of your screens out loud to yourself (or a pet or random passersby). This way you are hearing in addition to seeing and writing. Do not allow yourself to believe that reading something once will commit it to memory.
Attach each new concept to ones you already know. When you read something new, ask yourself how it applies to what you have already learned either in terms of the course or in life. Making that attachment will make the new concept easier to remember and deepen your comprehension.
Finally, communicate with your instructor. If you do not understand something, reach out to your instructor before you get to the course final exam.
Following these guidelines will yield not only a completion certificate for your course, but the knowledge you need for the next step in your real estate career.