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Online Strategies

A key factor identified for student success in the online environment is self-direction, the capability and willingness to direct one’s own education. Online students need to be independent and take ownership for their learning. Organisation, motivation, and a sense of confidence are components of self-directed learning. Below are some study strategies for online learning:

Treat an online lesson/course as if attending a live lecture.

For online lessons self-discipline is key, you need to sit down and commit to the work. In addition, you need to have the dedication to follow through. To ensure follow-through, remind yourself that attendance of the online course is as important as if attending a university lecture.  So you need to “show up” to your online class to reap the benefits!

Be accountable

Set goals for each of the online courses and monitor your progress weekly. Be aware of submission and assignment due dates. Ensure that you have allotted enough time to complete the work so that you’re not starting an assignment the day before it’s due.

If you’re finding it hard to be responsible, try finding a classmate or setting up a group to check in with. You could also enlist a friend or partner to be accountable to. Being proactive and organised helps with managing your learning.

Practice time management

The main component of online learning is time management.  The freedom to learn at your own time is appealing but that freedom can also be your downfall if you do not have solid time management skills.  Without them, you might easily to find yourself cramming before classes or submitting mediocre work.

How you manage your time will depend on your schedule, learning style, and personality.

  • Make note of major assignment and deadlines - mark them on a calendar you check regularly so that you can be reminded of the workload in the weeks ahead and can allocate the necessary time to complete
  • Have a weekly schedule that you follow. Set specific hours each week for reading, watching lectures, completing assignments, studying, and participating in forums.  Make your online coursework part of your weekly routine, and set reminders for yourself to complete these tasks.
  • When working on your assignments, set aside specific time for each task before moving on to the next and remain accountable to yourself.
  • Check in and look at how you’re spending your time. Do some self-reflection and adjust accordingly - Am I working according to my schedule? Am I spending my time appropriately – time dedicated to reading, listening to lectures and so on. Am I regularly underestimating the time needed to get through material and then cramming? What are some of the obstacles to my learning?
Have a designated study space and stay organised

Having a specific study space and completing your work there will help you to establish a routine. See which area in your space is conducive to your learning.  This will help you be organised in your learning as your study materials, deadlines for assignments and work schedule will all be in one place.   

Remove distractions

The best is to reduce distractions such as social media, television and daily chores and to set aside dedicated time to focus on your studies. Distractions can derail you from your study plan. This can be a challenge for some students and how much of a challenge it can be is dependent on your own personality, learning style and situation. Find a strategy that works for you.

Know when you are most productive

Think about when and how you accomplish your best work. Are you a morning person or more of a night person? Set aside appropriate time to do the work.  Develop a schedule that works for you and study strategies that work for you.

Be active and participate

Use the course’s online forum to help you better understand course materials and engage with fellow classmates. Comment, ask questions and participate in discussion boards.  This is a helpful platform to clarify matters and learn.  Set a goal to check in on the class discussion threads every day. It is important to be proactive.  If you find yourself falling behind voice your problem.  Don’t wait till the last minute to access help from the lecturer.

Use your network

Develop your relationships with other students by introducing yourself and engaging in online discussion boards. Peer input is a valuable resource when preparing for exams or assignments. You can even set up virtual study groups to enhance your learning.