- Keep up with the flow of the course. Online learning requires commitment.
- “Speak up” if problems arise. If you experience difficulty with anything from understanding course assignments to technical difficulty be sure to contact the instructor first, then the help desk at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Commit 10-12 hours a week per course. This is an average of the time required for an online course. Some courses may require more time or less time. Instructors will indicate “suggested” time required in the course information on the web or in the syllabus.
- Work with others in completing projects, if group work is required.
- Stay in touch with your instructor.
- Check your syllabus, assignments, and course web site daily.
- Look for any announcements that the teacher may have added.
- Complete your assignments in a timely manner. Waiting until the last minute to work on an assignment may not be the best way to succeed in an on-line class. If you encounter technical difficulties and have waited until shortly before the assignment is due to work on it, there may be no time to resolve the technical issue to allow you to submit your work.
- Familiarize yourself with the course design and tools to be used in Blackboard. Most instructors use similar tools in Blackboard. Read everything the instructor tells you about the tools and how they will be utilized in the course.
- Read the entire course syllabus. Note, however, that some instructors do not keep due dates in the syllabus, but may include them in calendars, assignments, announcements, etc. The syllabus will give you an overview of the courses and other pertinent information.
- Identify the tools necessary to complete assignments and be able to complete assignments on time.
- Organize your assignments and course goals into a schedule. Set deadlines for yourself and stick to them.
- Prepare for your assignments and tests.
- Read everything that is assigned to you.
- Designate a place of study that is comfortable for you.
- Keep aware of your materials. Online courses have many different materials. Remember you are not watching or listening as you would in a traditional classroom. Take notes and be prepared for your assignments and exams.
You might find the following tips useful in developing your time management skills.
- Save your documents on a regular basis.
- Submit your assignments using the assignment tool within your Blackboard class. Keep copies of your submitted assignments until you are comfortable that you will not need to resubmit them to your instructor.
- Set priorities on a daily, weekly, and/or monthly basis.
- Ask yourself “what’s the best use of my time right now? And focus on that particular activity.
- Approach overwhelming responsibilities with a positive attitude, and learn to break large tasks into small, achievable ones.
- Set goals and reward yourself when you’ve accomplished them.
- Always remind yourself of the benefits you’ll derive from task completion.
- Keep up with your course. Online courses are time consuming and you need to keep up with the reading and discussion boards. You should review the syllabus every week and in some instances every day as assignments can change. You should keep a calendar of the dates assignments are due so you can plan your study time to have assignments completed on time.
- Keep in touch with your instructor. Study the syllabus to understand the instructor’s testing format, grading system and expectations. If you do not understand an assignment or have technical problems contact your instructor right away.
- Schedule regular study periods. If you don’t set aside a specific study time chances are you will fall behind quickly. Select and use the same area if possible, away from distractions.
- Be realistic. When you make up your study schedule take into account your work and home schedules and plan for study times you will be able to complete. Remember the average time per week to spend on an online course is 10-12 hours. If you run into conflicts with your study schedule, it is better to spend half an hour on your course than to plan for an hour or two and not work on it all.
- Study short and often. Your brain takes in information faster and retains it better if you don’t try to overload it.
- Start study sessions on time. It sounds like a small detail, but it’s amazing how quickly those 10 minute delays add up. Train yourself to use every minute of your study schedule.
- Study when you are wide awake. The majority of people work most efficiently during daylight hours. In most cases, one hour during the day is worth 1 ½ hours at night. Decide what your best time is and try to schedule your study time accordingly. You accomplish more when you are alert. If you find yourself nodding off, give in to it. It’s better to pick up at another time rather than try to get through everything when you can’t think straight. Tackle the toughest areas first, while you are most alert.
- Set a specific goal for each subject you study. You’ll accomplish more, faster if you set a specific goal for each study session. Don’t worry if you don’t reach your set goal within your allotted study time. Either reschedule the task into your next study period or go back to it later in the day, if you can.
- Start assignments as soon as they are given. A little work on an assignment each day will allow you time to give attention to its quality. Your workload will be spread out, so you will avoid doing it at the last minute.
- Review your notes, assignments and discussion board discussion on a regular basis. Reviewing your work on a regular basis keeps you up to date and helps shorten the study time required for quizzes and exams.
- Take regular breaks. The general rule of thumb is a 10 minute break for every 50 minutes you work. Don’t study through your breaks. They rejuvenate you for your next hour of studying.
- Vary your work. Don’t get too bogged down on one assignment. Remember the tip of study short and often. Alternate from reading the text to working on an assignment to working on a paper. This will keep you from having trouble processing information from one particular assignment. If your course requires problem solving, spend a little time each day working on the problems assigned in the course.
- Reward yourself. When you complete one of the goals you set for yourself, give yourself a reward. The reward system gives you an incentive to reach your goals, and a pat on the back for achieving them.
- Keep on top of it. Letting work pile up can leave you with an overwhelming task. It’s easy to feel that you’ll never get on top of it again. If you find yourself falling behind, review your study skills and your time management skills. If something unexpected happens in your life to affect your work on the course, contact the instructor and discuss it with him or her.
Adapted from Making Your Mark, 5th edition, by Lisa Fraser.