Student Tips for Online Classes

March 1, 2011

Studying for a online degree has some challenges that you might not see in a regular college classroom.  After sharing her experiences yesterday with an online masters degree and her thoughts on online education, I asked Rishona if she could offer some tips for students who will be taking taking courses online.  Here they are:

1) Make a schedule. For me, I try to have all my readings for that week done by Wednesday. Homework is ongoing, but Sunday is my day to really spend big blocks of time on getting my projects done. So I do not make plans for Sunday; even if nothing is due.

2) Utilize your school email for your courses. Often times the LMS is tied into your school email address, so alerts and course correspondence go there. It is very off-putting to professors and your colleagues if you request that they email another address. Even then, some will either not do this, or flat out refuse.

3) Learn the LMS. Devote some time to learning how to use the features and tools available in your LMS. For example, my graduate school uses ANGEL which has a chat feature. We have scheduled group chats, and invariably someone is 15 minutes late to the chat because they did not know how to access it.

4) Respect group members. If you are working in groups, be mindful of other peoples’ availability and schedules. This does take effort, but it is a must if you wish to collaborate effectively virtually.

5) Be accessible. Being in an online course means that you are available most of the time. For example, if you can’t access the internet while you are at work, that is one thing.  But to tell your professor that you can’t log on because you went on vacation…no go. You will arise little sympathy from anyone by saying that…even if it is true. So here is what you really should do.

  • Buy a laptop. They are so cheap nowadays (like $300), this really should be mandatory
  • Buy a data plan for your cell phone. Even if you don’t have a smartphone, most cell phones have a way to access email on a limited basis. Even if you have to rig your school email to automatically forward to your Yahoo/Gmail/Hotmail account, make sure to due this (in that you’ll be able to at least get email where there is not wi-fi)
  • When you travel, inquire about wi-fi and/or research hotspots. You should treat your studies like a job. Would your boss appreciate you saying, “Oh well there was no wi-fi in my hotel” as an excuse if you were required to access your email while away?
  • Designate your own equipment for your studies. Don’t bank on your husband’s/wife’s/mother’s laptop to do your work.

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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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