Sitting behind a computer screen gives you the power to do multiple things at once. You can pay your bills, chat with friends, read up on the latest news, and watch cute cat videos. If you’re doing all of these things during your classwork time then it sounds like you have a lot of bad habits to overcome.
One of the biggest obstacles an online learner may face in distance education is the distractions. When you can access your classroom from anywhere at anytime it doesn’t give you a sense of urgency to get assignments done on time. One of the most notorious bad habits of the online learner is submitting assignments at the deadline. This is but one of a few bad habits that are common among the mobile learner. Some of the other bad habits you may not have thought you were guilty of are:
- Not reading the syllabus
- Not having a backup for your work/discussion posts
- Not having the required software
- Doing the bare minimum with class assignments
- Waiting until the end of the week to respond to peer posts
- Sitting at the computer all day
Each of these bad habits can be easily overcome with more patience and dedication to your studies.
Print out your syllabus!
Do this the day that classes open. It’s also a good rule of thumb to save a copy on your desktop so it’s accessible offline as well. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with this before you start on assignments. In the syllabus you’ll learn what style you’ll need to write in, how many discussion posts are expected, how to access reading materials for class, and other vital pieces of information the instructor wants you to be aware of.
Always back up your work!
Just like in a traditional university you need to back up your work. While you won’t be printing out your papers to hand in, you’ll want to make sure everything is saved in case you lose power. Even discussion posts should be backed up. When I write my weekly discussion post for class I write it in notepad first and then transfer it into the online classroom. This way if my internet times out in my area none of my work has been lost. Don’t blame your internet connection or low computer battery for “eating” your homework!
Check your software and technology requirements
Your online school will tell you what is needed up front. If you don’t take the time to test out what you have then you’re at a loss. It’s OK if you’re not sure of half the things listed, but make sure you talk to classroom support at your university before getting started. They can guide you in the right direction or help you to verify that you’re up to date and ready for classes.
Set high expectations!
If you have a required weekly discussion post for class then you’re probably also required to respond to two student posts a week as well. If you’re only responding to two a week then that’s the bare minimum. While it’s not a requirement to read and respond to every post, it will give you a greater perspective on the topic being discussed that week. For those with experience in a traditional classroom you get the stereo version of weekly discussion posts. This means that you get to hear from others while in class, instead of just reading what others decide is enough to submit that week. Don’t cheat yourself out of the online college experience. Instead, try responding a little more each week so you get a good rapport going with your classmates.
Do your weekly assignments early!
Stop waiting until the last minute to submit your posts! It puts you at a disadvantage since your classmates can’t respond and give you feedback, and you’re putting yourself at risk for being late. This is unnecessary stress you’re putting on yourself! If you have a lot going on during the week then you need to reorganize your schedule a bit. School should take priority over your favorite shows. And yes, it is football season, but don’t use that as an excuse for putting off your classwork.
Take breaks away from the computer!
This may sound odd, but you need time away from your computer every now and then. Staring at a monitor for hours can really strain your eyes, and drain your energy. When you have a reading assignment download it on your tablet, or pull out your class book and read it. Staying in front of the computer can be a distraction in itself. With access to the internet, and social media you could stay on there for hours without ever touching your classwork. Walking away and being offline while you’re studying is a great way to give your eyes a break, and to really let what you’re learning in class get absorbed.
The mobility of online education is great for many who have such busy lifestyles. To stay focused you’ll just need to keep a few things in mind. If you’re guilty of any of these bad habits don’t fret, it happens to the best of us. Just find the way to correct the issue that best suits your personality and needs. Good luck with classes!
By J. Mason
Online Learning Tips Editor