One of the biggest challenge’s students face while studying online is managing their time and other commitments. Falling behind when juggling other work, family, and childcare can often take its toll on your academic success.
In a study of online college students (Fetzner, 2013), these were the top three reasons students felt they did not succeed in their online courses:
Don't let this happen to you! Use these tips from GBC and Blackboard to write your own success story!
Don't allow yourself to think, "I can always catch up later." Be diligent and stay current. Maintain precise organization even though you might have flexibility in your online courses.
Use built-in tools.
Log In early and regularly to your Blackboard Learn and college email.
Anticipate technical difficulties.
If you do fall behind...
All students experience personal challenges at some point. The difference between successfully riding out those storms and failing is how you anticipate and deal with life's unexpected events.
Communicate with your instructor.
Create a cushion.
Time management is key.
It will require effort to achieve a balance between school and your other responsibilities, but you can do it!
Integrate personal and course calendars.
Your studies are part of your professional career. Make a conscious effort to be present, participate, and be professional at all times. Always remember why you started and keep your long term goal clear in your mind! You never know if one of your classmates, instructors, or guest speakers may be a future colleague, boss, or business partner.
If you haven't already, try searching your name on Google and see what comes up. Many employers will do a search on applicants. Remember, what your public profile looks like says a lot about you.
Before you start your semester take some time and update your online profiles associated with your studies to reflect your future vision. Try out these tips from LinkedIn for taking and selecting a professional photo that represents you.
Try to set (and keep!) boundaries, a schedule, and daily goals to help you succeed in each course and project.
Make your studies are a top priority every day. Create a portfolio of your work to help motivate you and celebrate your wins along the way.
Communicating in an online course is typically different than in a face-to-face course. You must keep in mind your tone as you will not be able to make changes once you hit send.
Here is a list of the 7 Cs of Effective Communication in an Online Course, based on an article by Melissa Veneable. Before you get to the 7Cs you need to remember to proofread everything you write before you press submit! Proofreading and grammar/spell-checking can really improve your success when communicating in your online course.
You want your messages to be clear so that fellow students and your professor can understand the point you are trying to make. Proofreading your material or even letting someone else read it prior to posting can also be useful as they may show you problem areas (i.e. areas that are difficult to understand) that you are not aware of.
You want to ensure you are answering any prompt or assignment completely. For instance, a prompt may have multiple parts you need to address. Even after writing your response, look back at the prompt to make sure you are addressing all of the necessary components.
I am sure many of you have heard the phrase, “short and sweet” to refer to the ideal length of time you should speak (e.g. in a presentation). Short and sweet is the key here. You want to communicate your point completely and effectively but remember less can be more. Most professors would prefer a shorter post that hits all of the key points than a long post that repeats the same points or goes on and on.
Make sure that the message you are sending is correct containing accurate information. Utilize reliable sources when gathering research for your message. When providing this information for others, be sure you grammar, spelling, and punctuation is correct as well.
Emphasizing your main points are important. This may come by sharing images, tables, or charts. However, you could also accomplish this by making sure you have a structure that makes sense to the reader (i.e. clear thesis sentence and clear concluding sentence).
Respecting others when communicating in your online courses is vital. Therefore, as I stated earlier, re-read your post or even have someone else read it prior to sharing it with the class. This will allow you to assess that you are coming across as respectful and professional as possible.
Who are you communicating to? You should keep in mind the recipient of your post and/or message. If you are writing a post for your class, you want to ensure you are using complete sentences. If you are texting a friend, then the same sentence conventions may not apply.
For some students, taking an online test will be a new experience.
The reality is that the first steps to getting ready for an online test are very similar to an in-person test. Regardless of the format, you need to study and be prepared. But then, there are a few other things to do.
In their book E-Learning Companion: A Student’s Guide to Online Success, Fourth Edition, Ryan Watkins and Michael Corry provide several recommended steps that students can take in order to succeed on online tests.
Read and understand the test guidelines.
Know the test format.
Check your computer.
Study the class materials!
Plan your time.
Carve out a quiet test-taking spot with minimal distractions.
Determine when you will take the test.
Gather all that you’ll need to take the test.
Take a deep breath!
Keep an eye on the clock.
First, write short-answer or essay questions in a word-processing program.
Don’t leave the test page!
Technical problems? Don’t panic.
Check your work before you submit it.
Assess your own progress.
Check your grade.
Ask yourself how you can improve on the next test.
Below we have some tips for managing test anxiety from our counselling team. Make sure you click Next to see how to manage stress leading up to the test, right before the test, and during the test.
Consider trying a FREE guided relaxation session on YouTube that fits your needs and complete it in your own time.
Making presentations either on your own or with your team is not going away because you are studying online. So we have put together some tips that will help you create an amazing presentation and share it virtually with your class.
Tips for online students to work successfully in virtual groups
Working in groups for class assignments can sometimes be difficult, especially for the online learner. Follow these useful tips to help guide you into a more successful virtual group dynamic.
When possible, choose group members with similar schedules. Online students reside in different time zones and can have opposing work schedules.
Be proactive and begin setting the groundwork early. As online learners, your time is extremely precious. Align group roles and responsibilities with individual strengths and interests.
Organize, research, record, and analyze.
Identify what project activities must be accomplished, in what order and by when.
Choose a group leader who is comfortable taking on that role.
Communication is key; establish clear guidelines around when, where and how your group will communicate with each other.
Create a comfortable forum to communicate through, even if it’s not the online classroom setting. Some options are Blackboard, Microsoft teams, Zoom, or Google Hangouts.
Schedule extra conference calls close to project deadlines to address any last minute hiccups and tasks.
Always be honest, but respectful in a group. If either the project or a fellow group member is heading down a path you don’t agree with, speak up.
Ask your professor to implement mandatory peer evaluations. This strategy encourages equal participation by ensuring individual accountability.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your professor. Provide regular group updates, which can then be used to track progress and mediate concerns.
Source: Tips for participating in group work and projects online from Drexel University
Know Your Team and Instructor.
Find A Specific Weekly Time to Meet.
Find Someone to be the “Voice” of the Project.
Agree on the Tools That You’ll Use to Collaborate.
Think about what you have learned in this module and complete the self-assessment below.
Personal Success Strategies