Online Learning is the best way to get knowledge and instructions if you are striving for the comfort of your homes. There are several advantages that act as the major ‘pull factors’ and attract lakhs of online students. One of the main reasons is its ‘flexibility and convenience’. And, who wouldn’t want that? I wouldn’t for sure! As the reach of education grows, along grows the stiff competition. Every other student is vying for the same set of seats in the very same college. It’s indeed a race to the top and you need to outshine others in some or the other way.

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Students today face immense competition and numerous challenges in the traditional colleges including higher tuition costs, travel time, course shortages, and more. This leads them to look for alternatives like online learning. And, before you raise your hand being one amongst them and vying for the convenience factor, be aware that it actually makes learning tougher compared to a traditional classroom.

Now, I am sure you are caught up in the midst of ‘How and why’? This is because, the most important element of online learning is self- motivation. Only you are responsible for your education and taking keen interest in your subjects. There is a limitation for anyone to push you to perform better, especially in online learning. It depends on you to refer the study material, engage in live discussions, get your doubts cleared, stay connected with the expert/tutor, and use the study materials effectively for learning.

And, what does all of this culminate to? Definitely: self- discipline, organisation and self- confidence.

To create wonders in online learning, you as a student have to develop and practice some skills that are quite critical for self- directed learners. Let’s see some of the key points that can ensure success with online learning.

Be an Effective Time Manager

These days, students who take up an online course either work part- time/full- time, have various responsibilities, or they may be regular students at any traditional university. Hence, it is crucial for them to manage the time effectively and treat the online course as important. In short, I would like to believe that if you have chosen the online mode of learning along with abovementioned engagements, you do have good time management skills.

Of course, online learning requires the same amount of time as the traditional classroom learning. You have to discipline yourself and schedule time for lectures, discussions with tutors and fellow classmates, and finish assignments within the deadlines. You have to stick to your daily schedules and accomplish the tasks regularly. Now, you can do that by following the below- mentioned points that will also help you learn quickly and efficiently.

  • Plan Well: When you have to juggle various responsibilities, it is a good idea to set aside some time each week for studying. This is the quality of a successful online learner. Plan specific study days and stick to it, which will be critical to your success. You can make a time table for reading the lessons and writing assignments for the online course each week.
  • Log- on to the course page regularly: It is important for online students to check the course home page regularly. You have to set aside some dedicated time almost every day for checking the home page. This will help you know the topic of discussions, announcements from tutors or keep yourself updated with the course materials. You can also actively participate in the discussion forums that will help you stay connected with your virtual classmates. Believe me, staying connected with people like yourself…is a great motivator!

Have Information on the Syllabus

The course syllabus is very important for online learning and a comprehensive understanding of the same, will help you schedule the tasks well. You can keep track of crucial items like necessary books required, grading policies of the online course provider, evaluation standards of assignments, etc. Keep note of all the important things like assignment due dates, discussion timings and doubt- removal sessions, if any. You can use any application on your smartphone to add reminders or add those things to the calendar.

At the start of every week, you should review the instructions for the assignments and its due dates. This way you will not miss any important dates and will be able to coordinate all lectures and assignments well. However, if you feel you will not be able to complete the assignments on- time, you should inform your tutor before your assignment due date approaches. It will help you maintain a healthy relationship with the online tutor as well.

Make Efforts to Attain Technical Skills Needed for an Online Course

In this digital era, you will be surprised to know that there are still many online students who are not well- equipped with the technology or have the required technical skills to operate basic software. Anyhow, we cannot complain because age does not matter for taking an online course, right? There are various instances wherein we may find many retired and aged people taking up online courses to step up with the world.

It indeed acts as a disadvantage, if students are unable to use Microsoft Office, navigate the internet or download and use the required software. Most of the online course providers keep orientation programs so that online students can get used to the software required for the course and learn to use the online learning systems and online tools. You can even seek assistance from your tutor to learn on the go.

If you choose to enrol in an online course, you will surely need technology to communicate with the tutors and peers via forums, video conferencing, email or chat platforms. You will also be expected to upload the documents, mainly assignments, conduct searches, navigate through the course website and use different software.  If you want to succeed in an online course, make sure you are well- versed with the technological tools required for online learning. Learn to use technology either with someone’s help or by taking some online tutorials. Obviously, you can’t wait until it becomes too late and your grades get impacted, simply because of your inability to use the interface.

Connect Efficiently with the Peers and Tutors/ Instructors

Take advantage of your online course and communicate with the peers and tutors on a regular basis. Students with a good network of peers tend to enjoy more resources compared to the ones who don’t connect with other online students. Most of the online learners are successful because they are well- connected and value those connections. Stay actively connected to other online students by being an active member of group activities, share your research, get involved in various activities, review peers, and reach out to your mates on a regular basis. Because of active participation, you can build relationships with the help of student- networking.

Each one of you would agree that online students who actively engage with their peers for a longer period of time, perform better compared to other students. With this, you will also get greater exposure to various perspectives, receive feedback from your mates, practice your ideas, and get motivation. Here arises the crucial question, how can you do this? One thing that is great about online learning is that it diminishes boundaries, and hence, gives you chance to make personal and professional connections across the world. You can engage with students in other cities or even countries through chat rooms, online discussions during classes or social media. So, for successful online learning, build networks, take advantage of the resources available, and share them with others.

Stay Motivated to Learn

For sure, online learning has a lot of convenience factor. But with the ‘Learning part’ solely dependent on the students, it becomes crucial for them to stay motivated to continue pursuing the online course. The flexibility of online learning brings lots of responsibilities for you. You have to improve self- discipline, learn and use new technology, avoid distractions, etc. It is very easy for anyone to procrastinate from the course during online learning. This is the reason the retention rate in online learning is still lesser compared to the traditional learning.

Online learning requires every student to be internally motivated, independent and responsible towards the course curriculum. Hence, it is tough to complete the course online and chances of quitting are high. So always stay motivated even when life gets crazy and rough. Always have a goal and complete it within the time frame, form a group of peers and stay connected to them so you all can motivate each other. Also, celebrate each other’s small successes together, to stay encouraged and motivated.  

Choose your Study Environment

The productivity of online students also depends on the place of study they choose. What is your most favourite place of study- Office, home, a public library or a Park? Whatever you choose, make sure that the study environment motivates you, and is quiet. It should also have adequate lighting and the place should be with limited distractions. When you are self- motivated and self- directed, the place hardly matters, right? Actually it does to some extent, and so, stay free from unnecessary distractions.

Online learning has its own rewards and challenges for the students. But they have to make use of this great opportunity successfully and reward themselves with the gift of knowledge in the subject they choose. With little responsibility towards learning and a sound strategy, students can make online learning successful. Keep in mind that there is no shortcut to success and only self- discipline and hard work will help you achieve the things you aim for. All the very best!