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The Dos and Don’ts of Online Learning

by Chantel DaCosta Nov 12, 2018

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If you are interested in lifelong learning and self-development, the internet is a fantastic resource.

Once you’ve done your research and found high quality and credible online learning platforms and courses, your next challenge is how to navigate the online classroom. You may be used to the physical class, and as such the online learning experience can be challenging to get used to.

Here are the top dos and don’ts of online learning to help get you going.

Do have reliable internet

Your internet connection is your classroom.  Learning materials will be presented as text to be read or videos to watch, regardless of how the materials are packaged; you need a reliable internet connection to access it. Imagine doing a quiz only to lose internet access, no, that won’t work, you will fail.

Don’t ignore communication preferences

Many online learning platforms and tutors have rules on how to communicate as well as platform-specific messaging applications. Pay attention to these preferences, don’t ignore the rules. If the orientation video states to wait three days to inquire about grades, wait. If you are told to use the internal message system to communicate, then don’t email instead.

Do participate

Students are expected to participate in class. Most lessons will have discussion forums attached, join in. These discussion boards allow you to interact with other students and gain insights into new ways of thinking. Also, for several classes, these discussions and your participation may count towards your final grade.

Don’t ignore instructions

If you have a course project or assignment, pay close attention to the instructions and follow them. If the assignment asks that you research and write a 500-word essay, do not submit 850 words. Follow the instructions; pay keen attention to what you are asked to do. This is very similar to any learning experience if you fail to follow the instructions provided; you are likely to get your work returned to you, unmarked.

Do manage your time

Most online platforms will state initially how long the class will be offered. This can be communicated in how many hours or weeks of access, or specific dates. You must organise your time so you can review the syllabus, examine learning materials, participate in discussions and submit course assignments. Dedicate an hour or two to your online learning each day until you have fulfilled all the tasks required to get your certificate.

Don’t enrol in several classes at once

This is also tied to managing your time. While many online courses have short video lessons and you may feel that it is easy to draft your responses to forums, do not take on more than you can successfully complete. You will also need time to research and write your assignments, do not underestimate the time commitments required to complete your lessons.

Do Be Polite

Be polite and mindful of other learners. This means that while you may not agree with all the opinions of other learners, don’t be disrespectful in your responses. Remember that online there are learners from all over the world. You will have to interact with students from different backgrounds as well as people who may not be native English speakers. Be polite and respectful to everyone.

Don’t Take Study Anywhere Literally

One of the very best advantages of online learning is that you are not confined to a specific space. But be smart about where you choose to study. Avoid working on tasks in environments that are filled with distractions. Don’t study in front of the TV, don’t review lessons when you are at work. And don’t try to squeeze in studying during social events. Instead, have dedicated times and places to study.

Whether you are new to online learning or you have dabbled but found it too strange, try these recommendations and reject the negativity. Try to be open-minded; a world of new information and new skills can be available to you on the internet.

Sources: Stanford University, Smart Sparrow, e-Learning Industry, and US News.