If you are new to online learning, technology isn’t the hard part. The challenge is adapting to a new way of learning.
Like most students, you may feel some anxiety about working online and whether you are “doing it right.” Self-doubt increases when people feel isolated, so it’s important to develop a sense of connection with your classmates—and to develop strategies for becoming a self-directed, self-regulated learner.
Here are my five best tips for success in the online classroom environment.
- My students tell me this is the key: Log in first thing every morning, if only for 10 or 15 minutes, and read what is posted on the discussion board. You don’t have to post—just keep up with what your classmates are saying. So when you do post, your subconscious has worked on ideas and you can add value to a discussion. One study found that the best predictor of online students’ success was the number of discussion board posts they made beyond the required minimum.
- To overcome the sense of isolation you may feel at first, develop a network with a small cohort of your classmates and communicate about the course content on a regular basis via Skype, Google Chat, or IM. Give each other feedback and share ideas. This will help your insecurity diminish and your sense of community and belonging grow. It will also develop your communication skills, and it can make a huge difference in how much you get out of the course.
- To succeed in an online environment, your level of discipline needs to be even more intense and specific than it does in a classroom environment. Set aside dedicated time each week to post and to work on assignments. Do not allow other commitments to chip away at this dedicated time.
- Stay ahead! Always know what is coming in the next week. Stay aware of what your assignments are for the entire course, and read the required materials for the week either prior to the start of that week or within the first two days.
- Develop a relationship with each of your instructors. This will give you an understanding of their expectations and help you feel more connected to the course.
About the author
Andrea Luoma, PhD, is a dissertation supervisor and Lead Faculty for the Leadership component of the Glion Online MBA. Her extensive experience in hospitality education includes chairing MBA programs and building curricula.