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Tips for successful distance learning

How to Be Successful in an Online Learning Environment

Online courses offer increased flexibility to complete coursework anytime and anywhere. This flexibility comes with the responsibility to manage your learning environment. Most online courses require just as much work as face-to-face courses do, and sometimes can feel as though they require more work depending on your learning preferences. The following skills will help you stay on track and be successful in your online courses.

  • Take charge. Be proactive and decide to make this a great semester!
    • "We cannot but look forward to new perplexities in the coming conflict, but we may look on what is past as well as on what is to come, and say, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” Deuteronomy 33:25.
    • The trial will not exceed the strength that shall be given us to bear it. Then let us take up our work just where we find it, believing that whatever may come, strength proportionate to the trial will be given." Ellen White, Steps to Christ, 125.2

  • Get a strong handle on the tech
    • Work out a reliable internet connection and computer station.
    • Familiarize yourself with the learning platform by completing all tutorials provided and by asking questions.

  • Communicate early and often
    • Communication with professors is critical to success in the online learning environment.
    • Promptly email professors when you have questions or concerns and make sure to take advantage of Q&A forums provided in the course.
    • Feel free to reach out to your professor by phone or video-conference during their virtual office hours.
    • Forming relationships with your online classmates is important too. Connect early and often to classmates via email and/or social media

  • Get organized
    • When possible, set up a place to study that is free from distraction and get in the habit of using that space daily for all your work. Productivity is sometimes as much about muscle memory as it is discipline. Consistency and regularity helps you get in the zone easier and faster.
    • Make sure your study environment contains all the materials you need to accomplish assignments. Develop a consistent and convenient system for saving documents.
    • Take notes while reading course materials and watching online lectures or videos.
    • If you work better when you have hard copies of course materials, print them and keep them handy while you work.

  • Manage your time
    • Create a schedule that includes regular and sufficient time to complete course assignments and stick to it.
    • Review assignments and create a calendar that contains all due dates.
    • Log into your class daily to check for course changes and to review course materials.
    • Consider using the pomodoro method, or other batching methods that encourage you to stay focused on your most important tasks with time for breaks.

  • Stay motivated
    • Successful online students are independent and persistent. When difficulties arise, they stay motivated and keep trying.
    • It is essential to avoid distractions and remind yourself regularly of the reasons why you are enrolled in school.

  • Connect with Others
    • Physical distancing is important, but we still need community to live well even in a pandemic. Participate in online discussions. Invite classmates to a group study session using Zoom or another video conferencing tool. Worship together with family. Reach out to others in need and be a friend, even if you can't do so in person.