By Leslie Olsen
Online Learning Tips, Special Contributor
In 2008, The Economist Intelligence Unit published, The future of higher education: How technology will shape learning. The executive summary states:
Technological innovation, long a hallmark of academic research, may now be changing the very way that universities teach and students learn. For academic institutions, charged with equipping graduates to compete in today’s knowledge economy, the possibilities are great (The Economist. 2008).
Earning your education online may cause apprehension for some, but as the above quote suggests, the way we learn has changed forever. Congruently, so is the way we are taught. Academic institutions, the professors, and the instructors must find new and perhaps enticing methods to reach out to students in order to optimize their online learning experience and maximize their future scholastic and career opportunities.
Without personal and face-to-face interactions, some students may find it more difficult to grasp academic content, yet the possibilities allow for immediate feedback and virtually instant access to resources and choices that were not available in the past. In addition, self-motivation is vital within such a demanding and competitive setting. Therefore, getting involved with your online class will facilitate and improve outcomes as well as build confidence.
One of the best pieces of advice I received prior to starting my online master’s degree with American Public University (APU) was from a woman in the admissions office. Her kind and well-intended words were ‘don’t be late with your assignments’. I had no idea how important this was. Online courses are dependent on participation, and all too often students were tardy with their input, which may lead to discontinuity and frustration.
Read the Syllabus
Professors craft their syllabi to deliver pertinent course information such as how to contact them, class objectives, the schedule, due dates of tests or assignments, books or readings, and grading data.
Check out Campus Resources
Get involved with the academic environment. Join clubs, organizations, visit the Quad, and make use of the online campus and library. APU offers a wide variety of ways that you can make a difference at school, nationally, and worldwide.
Embrace your Anonymity
Believe it or not, not being seen is empowering. At first I was shy and a little intimidated, but soon realized that many other students felt the same way. It is possible to nurture and develop functional relationships with classmates, so reach out to fellow students.
Take Cues from Your Professors
Professors differ in how much they direct, interact, and engage the class in forums and discussions. Yet the questions they ask are pertinent to course progression and content.
If you’re brand new to online learning, check out my article on “The Tech Learning Curve: 5 Tips for Succeeding Online.”
About the Author
Leslie received her MPA in Health Policy from APU. Leslie is also a published author, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Health Coach, and Fitness Coaching Specialist. Besides exercise, she loves to garden, travel, and has fun with her children and dogs.