Your comments, questions, and answers are valuable in making your online class feel like a community, making participation an important aspect of your online degree program. Always read your course syllabus thoroughly, review it from time to time, and stay in contact with your instructor. And remember, it is your responsibility to contact the instructor before the end of the first week of your online class.
While you should strive to be an active, involved, and independent learner, keep in mind that actively joining in group discussions online will also make you feel more like a member of a group. You can use email, chat, or bulletin board tools to ask questions of other students, or even form virtual study groups to support each other throughout your online degree program.
Treat your Internet course with the same dedication and effort that you would devote to an in-classroom course. Just like in offline classes, persistence is important for e-learners, too. Keep trying until you get the answers you need, and don't be afraid to seek out the answers from your classmates and instructor.
If a technical problem arises with your computer, don't put off dealing with it. Send a note to your instructor immediately, and seek repairs or find an alternate option for completing your work. Similarly, if you are having trouble with your Internet connection, contact your Internet provider, or consider going to an Internet café or other public area with access to internet.
Persistence applies to questions about material covered in the course as well. Give yourself plenty of time to complete your assignments and prepare for tests, and if you have a question - speak up! No one can see that baffled look on your face, so if you need clarification or explanation, ask for it.
Most e-courses and online degree programs have a steady weekly schedule of assignments. Staying on top of this is important to success. Be sure to mark all your assignments and when they are due on your calendar. Make special note of any tests or exams and make time to study in advance. Some classes require that exams be proctored, and your proctor may not be available after hours, so be sure to make arrangements to take off work if necessary.
They say patience is a virtue for a reason. It's not always easy, but being patient will make things much easier for you as well as your classmates and instructor. You don't sit by your computer 24 hours a day, and neither does your instructor, so don't get upset if takes several days before your instructor to respond to your emails (and certainly do not expect them to respond to you on a weekend or holiday).
Be patient with yourself as well, and allow extra time as needed to master any course content or any new technical skills that may be unfamiliar to you. Be considerate in your comments and emails to classmates. When you send an email or place a comment on the bulletin board, remember that there is a person on the other side just like you who may still be learning course content. You wouldn't start yelling at someone in a face-to-face course, and the same rules of etiquette apply in an online classroom. Others can't see that you're smiling when you make a sarcastic remark, or that you're angered by someone's statement, so write your messages carefully so that they clearly convey your meaning.
Keep in mind the 3 Ps of e-learning - Participation, Persistence and Patience - and you will be sure to find success in your online degree program.
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Article Added on Friday, February 17, 2012
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