Monday, August 21, 2017

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How to Perform Well in Online Courses

Online Learning StudentFully online courses are becoming more popular, as they provide students with increased access and flexibility. At the University of Southern Mississippi, we find that online courses are especially appealing during the Summer term because they enable many students to take classes while working full-time and/or living outside the local area. Unfortunately, online courses have a well-deserved reputation for being more difficult for many students than their traditional face-to-face counterparts.

Continuing with the theme of tips for academic success, here are some tips for succeeding in fully online courses:
  1. Understand the technical requirements of the course you are planning to take and make sure you can meet them (e.g., computer access, reliable high-speed Internet). If you run into any difficulties, get help to resolve them early.
  2. Carefully review the course syllabus to make sure you are aware of the requirements of the course you are taking, noting all due dates. One of the most common reasons students struggle in online courses is that they do not complete assigned work prior to the due date.
  3. Log in to the course regularly (i.e., at least 4-5 days a week). This will make it harder to fall behind and make sure you do not miss announcements or new content.
  4. Create a study schedule, and stick with it. Effective time-management skills are critical for success in online courses. Stay organized so you know what unit or section you should be working on at any point in time.
  5. Use a consistent workspace. It helps to have a consistent place for studying in online courses just as it does in traditional courses. Find somewhere quiet, turn off your cell phone, and beware of online distractions (e.g., social media, email).
  6. Ask questions. Your instructor wants you to succeed. If you don’t ask questions, he or she has no way of knowing you need help.
  7. Do not wait until the last minute to complete assignments or exams. Doing so makes it more likely that tech-related failures will prevent you from completing your work before the deadline.
  8. Make online connections with your classmates. Many students find it helpful to use the Discussion features of the online platform to connect with other students in the class.
  9. Seek to apply what you are learning to your own life. Making the material personally relevant will improve your chances of remembering and understanding it. In an online course, this can often be accomplished by pausing every now and then to ask yourself how what you have just read, watched, or heard relates to your life experiences.
  10. If you have never taken a fully online course before, start by taking no more than one at a time. This will make it less likely that you will feel overwhelmed and more likely that you will be able to keep up.
Fully online courses might not be ideal for everyone. If you find yourself struggling to keep up, pace yourself, or manage your time effectively, consider whether you might be better served by taking the traditional classroom version of the course.

Counselors at the Community Counseling and Assessment Clinic work with students to improve their chances of academic success by helping them acquire new skills, improve skills they already have, and overcome barriers to educational achievement. For information on how we can help, visit our website or call 601.266.4601 for an appointment.

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