How to be a Successful Online Student
Provided by Chris Jackson
For your course to be a SUCCESS, you need to set yourself up for SUCCESS. Check out the tips we have learned over the year for positive, online learning experiences.
Find your why
Even if you are doing this course because ‘someone is making you do it,’ … try and think of a scenario where whatever it is you are about to learn can help you out. Ideally, think of something that ‘keeps you up at night.’ And when you are completing your course, continually think about how much better you will be able to sleep at night once you are done! But this could also be for something specific for a license, certification or your next great job!
Actively Participate. Actively Participate. Actively Participate.
Some students just sit back in the relatively anonymity of their own basement, office, coffee shop or tree house and let every one else ask questions. Let’s be honest about this. This is lazy and ineffective. Instructors can’t make you interested in something. If you are serious about learning, be serious about asking questions for synchronous learning, and writing a list of questions for your instructor during asynchronous learning.
Create Your Classroom
There is a reason that most classrooms look roughly the same. Even the ‘worst’ ones make sure there is a central point of focus which usually is the instructor and whatever it is they are writing on or showing. Wherever you are, make your own classroom. Even if you are in an airport lounge, make sure you can’t see TVs or other monitors behind your device. You know what distracts you … get rid of them! The ambience of a coffee shop works well for some. It is a disaster for others. Noise cancelling headphones can be really helpful here. Make yourself comfortable … you need to be there for a little while. Is your notepad easy to write on? If not … find a table or ‘situation’ that works. A dark room can lead to eye strain.
This is one area where airline lounges can be problematic. You need to be connected. Most of the courses here don’t require lots of ‘graphics processing.’ But if you want to keep up, then you need to make sure you have a reliable internet connection.
Have water, snacks, chewing gum and anything else you might need to shove in your face ready to go.
Notes. Take Them
Notes aren’t primarily there for you to refer back to them later on. Notetaking reinforces learning. That’s why you should take notes. Do you need to take handwritten notes? Do you prefer to type notes into your computer? Again … work out what works best for you.
Acuitas courses provide you with editable PDF workbooks. All course content is in there … and you just need to fill in the blanks. This might be all you need. Or perhaps you need to write some stuff down to make sure it is clear in your head. The choice is yours.
Ask for Help if you (think you) are falling behind
Even Einstein had to ask questions.
Multitasking is really cool. Except when you are using the word ‘multitasking’ to describe you doing lots of things really badly at the same time. Multitasking requires you brain to be focusing on different things at the same time. Learning requires you brain to be focused on one thing only. So don’t casually check emails, texts, social media, scores or anything else that you might kid yourself by describing as ‘multitasking.’
If you are doing ‘synchronous’ learning
— Turn your video camera on
‘Synchronous’ means you are doing ‘virtual’ training real time with a real instructor. They are physically talking while you are listening. So why should you turn your video camera on?
This does many things. The first is (believe it or not) make you accountable. Knowing that your instructor can see if you are looking away, reading a book or anything else where you aren’t focusing on the course content makes you more likely to pay attention. The second thing your video camera does is make a personal connection. We can read so much about someone based on body language and facial expressions. Your instructor will FEEL like they are addressing you as a person (instead of just knowing that you are there).
If you are doing ‘asynchronous’ learning …
‘Asynchronous’ means you are doing ‘online’ training at your pace. Lessons are pre-recorded, and you can do do your learning when and where you want it. So what can you do?
Create a Schedule. And don’t use magic.
Doing a course 10 minutes at a time doesn’t work. You can’t plan on doing your course by 17 minute block increments because that is how long your bus trip takes. If your next lesson takes 50 minutes, then don’t even think about starting that lesson until you have 50 minutes to do it. If your lunch break is 50 minutes, then you need to start your lesson as soon as your break starts (so no walking allowed), have no interruptions (good luck!) eat lunch at the same time without losing focus (hell no) and hope that all sorts of other things to (not) happen. That requires magic.
Your pace. Your pace. Your pace.
That is one of the benefits of asynchronous learning. You get to go at our own pace. Sometimes you might feel pressured to ‘keep up’ with the schedule. In practice, you get to hit pause whenever you want. Master what you have just learned before you move on. Speak offline with your instructor if you have any questions. You might be surprised about how awesome asynchronous learning can be.
Find your source of accountability
his is different for everyone. Perhaps it is finding an accountability partner who will check in on you. Perhaps it is creating a schedule, printing it out and putting it up on the wall. Perhaps you get to ‘reward’ yourself after each lesson. Find what works for you.