How to Prepare for Online Courses

19 Mar

Online courses have their pros and cons. They are more flexible than in person courses and are pretty much self-paced. However, they do require a lot more work in terms of organization and time management. This semester I am taking three online courses because I have too many commitments during the work week to fit in a full schedule of in-person classes. Here’s my advice for success in online classes.

  1. Block out time in your calendar to work on assignments. Because the time is not already set aside, I created time blocks in each day of the week to focus on my online coursework. Monday through Friday this is about 3-6 hours a day that I would have normally been doing homework where I’m reading, watching lectures, or getting started on written assignments. On Saturday and Sunday I have about 5 hours each day specifically set aside for working on homework, knowing that will likely need to be extended when larger projects come due.
  2. Map out due datesPrior to this semester, I pretty much lived out of my planner already. Now I absolutely need it to stay on track to complete assignments with less stress. I went through syllabus by syllabus and wrote down each due date for minor assignments, projects, and exams. Then I went to the monthly calendar to put down the bigger due dates. For all three of my courses, everything is primarily due on Friday-Sunday with the opportunity to turn everything in early.
  3. Make connections with classmates. Traditional courses make this much easier, but having some people to troubleshoot assignments with or run ideas by is extremely helpful in online courses. In two of my classes, I have a few people that I have taken face to face courses with that I can always ask for help. The third course requires us to work in teams, so once I got my team I made sure we had each other’s contact information. We now have a group text and have used it to get to know one another as well as communicating about the week’s assignment.

The first time I was in an online course, I found it quite difficult to balance it with all of my other commitments. After finding what works for me, I am much more confident that I will be able to succeed in my courses. Feel free to try out my strategies! If they don’t work for you, think about what kind of learner you are, how you stay motivated, and develop different strategies that are more appropriate for you.

-Gabriela

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