These tips will help you get the most out of your online classes
by Rebekah Baughman
Student at Emporia State University and Central Christian College of the Bible
I absolutely adore online classes. I love that I am able to get the class I want without having to leave my house or even be in the state that the college/university resides in. Ever since my first one in high school, I’ve gotten better and better at getting the grade I want in them. Online classes are great for people who need a flexible school schedule (or for people like me who just love to “go to school” in their pajamas).
So from my several years of experience taking online classes, I have come up with a list of tips for thriving in a virtual class environment.
1. Get rid of the myth that online classes are easier than traditional classes.
You may not have to sit in a class praying that the teacher does not call on you, and you don’t have to worry about staying awake in lecture after an all-nighter (I of course have never done either of these things). None of that means that online classes are going to be easier. Actually, online classes require equal, if not more dedication and work from you than traditional classes. There are a lot of benefits to online classes but they’ll be just as challenging as any other class.
2. Make a schedule.
One of the biggest reasons that I find that people do not do well in online classes is because they never really spend any time on the class. It has been vital to my own success in online classes to make a schedule for myself, planning when I’ll log on, listen to lectures, and do assignments. Make a schedule in your planner and STICK TO IT.
3. Take notes.
Just like in traditional classes, it’s a good idea to take notes in online classes. This can be done through online applications (Word, Google Docs, etc.), through an organizational app like LifeSpace, or through old-fashioned pen and paper. Writing notes down is a great way to help you remember and access the information you are trying to learn.
4. Go through the given resources.
One of my bad habits is to not really view all of the information and learning resources that are given to me through my online classes. Every teacher and class is different, but there are usually a variety of resources given in the case of an online class. Some of these resources are PowerPoints, audio/video lectures, e-texts or physical books, YouTube videos, and documentaries. Usually the teacher puts these resources on your portal for a reason, and in my experience, the information from them tends to pop up on tests and quizzes.
5. Keep in contact with the instructor.
At the beginning of all of my online courses I try to establish a relationship with the teacher by introducing myself in an email. Doing this shows the teacher that you are professional and invested in the course. Make sure that this is not your only email to the teacher during the span of the semester. Ask questions and respond to comments made by the teacher (both positive and negative). If you don’t ask, then you will never know, and that might cost you a good grade.
Just like traditional classes, you may not get everything right. It comes down to doing your best. And in reality, online classes are not for everyone. If you try an online class and totally bomb it, you may want to stick with traditional classes or you may figure out that the real problem was something different, like the class subject or some kind of distraction. Whatever happens, remember that your grades don’t define you, so just do your best and learn something new!