From resources available on the Internet to tips, strategies and best practices for online learning, these tips for success are a valuable addition to your overall eCampus student experience. And for even more tips, remember to connect with eCampus on Facebook
Tips for Success in Online Discussions
Online discussions are a great way to engage with the course content and fellow students. They help to create a sense of community and can help students avoid the feeling of isolation that can come from learning online. Here are some tips to make the most of online discussions.
Understand the Requirements
A good place to start with any assignment or activity in an online class is to understand the requirements. Is there a minimum number of required posts? Do the posts have to be a certain length? What are the due dates? Are there other ground rules to follow? Does participation in the discussion count as part of the final grade? Understanding the requirements will help to eliminate unexpected surprises when the instructor grades your work.
Understand the Questions
Just like understanding the posting requirements, it is important to understand what you are being asked to discuss. Are you being asked to discuss an article, something from the textbook, a news item, a personal opinion or viewpoint? Read the question carefully to ensure your post is both relevant and appropriate to the discussion.
Online discussions can feel taxing, or they can feel lively and fun; it all depends on you. Get involved and be an active part of the conversation. Unlike a traditional face-to-face lecture, in an online discussion you can take the time to think through what you want to say and how you want to respond to others. Use that extra time to really get involved in the discussion.
It’s difficult to follow a conversation when you join it near the end. The same is true in an online discussion. Even though you can go back and read what others have posted, it will mean more if you are actively involved from the beginning of the discussion. By posting early you will be more engaged, feel less stress and have a much more rewarding experience.
Use Proper Netiquette
Netiquette, or Internet etiquette, is very important in an online discussion. The way you behave in an online discussion should mimic the way you would behave in a traditional face-to-face discussion. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while participating in an online discussion:
- Make meaningful contributions
- Respond to others with respect
- Provide constructive feedback
- Avoid overly negative criticism
- Be conscious of the tone of your text
Tips for Success in Online Group Work
Online group work takes time, effort and can sometimes be frustrating; but successful communication and time management can smooth the bumps and improve the quality of online collaboration. Here are some tips for making the most out of online group work.
Communicate Early and Often
Communication is vital to the success of an online group project. Initiate communication as soon as the group is established, through Blackboard, email, or other means as directed by the instructor. Introduce yourselves to each other, and develop a communication plan. In the communication plan establish when, how, and how often communication will occur.
Understand the Assignment
It is important that each member of the group understand all the requirements for the group project. Review the assignment; and if you have questions, ask for clarification from the instructor before continuing. Ensuring everyone is on the same page will reduce confusion and contribute to the overall success of the project.
Establish Roles and Assign Tasks
Understanding the role each member plays in the larger group project will allow everyone to take ownership. A group leader can help to keep the group on track. Decide who will compile all work created by the group and who will submit the assignment to the instructor. If possible, break up the assignment into smaller pieces so everyone can work individually on one area.
Time Management and Deadlines
Understand the deadlines issued by the instructor, and establish reasonable targets for each group member. Try to leave at least two or three days before the final deadline to allow each member time to review and “sign off” on the finished assignment before submitting it to the instructor.
Recognize Group Contributions
Take the time to acknowledge the work performed by everyone in the group. This helps to create a sense of community and purpose among the members and will enhance the overall experience. After all, no one wants to feel isolated and unappreciated.
Tips for Success in Online Learning
Successful online learners organize a plan, prioritize activities, communicate questions, engage with the class and dedicate themselves to success.
Successful online learners understand the importance of organization, especially if they are registered in more than one class. Taking a few moments at the beginning of the class to review due dates of exams, assignments and other class requirements is essential to success. Knowing what is expected of you at the beginning will help you create an organized and realistic plan for the semester.
Successful online learners prioritize their activities to help stay on top of homework, reading and deadlines. Each week create a prioritized “to do” list including both academic and non-academic items. This will give you a snapshot of your week and help you not only stay on task but also with time management.
Successful online learners know the importance of regular communication. Visual clues and body language are ways a face-to-face instructor determines if students are 1) present and 2) understanding the material. These clues are not available in online classes. The only way an online instructor can “see” you are present and understanding material is through regular communication. If you have questions or are struggling it is up to you to communicate with the instructor in a timely manner.
Successful online learners engage with others and the course content. As with almost anything in life, the more engaged you are with an activity the more likely you are to succeed. Online learning is no exception. Make the most of your time in class to connect with your classmates, the instructor and the course content.
Successful online learners dedicate time and energy to being successful. Set yourself up for success by being realistic about your time commitments; don’t take on more than you can handle. Remember, you are not alone; utilize the resources around you such as your classmates, instructors and other school support resources. Stay positive and surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed.
For more information including tips from successful online learners, read “How Students Develop Online Learning Skills” published in Educause Quarterly (Roper, 2007).
Other Tips for Success
Visit Advising and Academic Enhancement for more Study Skills and Resources including: