Self-Direction and Motivation
An online course does not come to you. Success in the online learning environment requires a student to be self-directed and self-motivated. Unlike a face-to-face course that meets at a specific place and time, the online student must take the initiative to acquire course information, meet deadlines, and participate actively. While many online instructors work diligently to keep students on track, keeping up with coursework is ultimately the responsibility of the student.
Below you will find some tips on self-direction and motivation:
Prepare Your Learning Environment
Prior to the beginning of the semester, you can prepare the space in which you plan to work on your course. Think about what type of environment works best for you. Do you like to work in a quiet place with no distractions? If so, take this into account when planning your workspace. If you are better able to work if there is a bit of background noise, then plan that type of location. The important thing is that you choose an area that works best for you. Make your space comfortable and stock it with items that you will need. Having a dedicated space such as this will help you later on in sticking to a routine. Consider it the equivalent of your face-to-face classroom. If there isn’t a suitable environment in which you can work where you reside or work, perhaps a local library would be appropriate. You can still prepare by collecting all items that you will need for your course (such as a laptop, supplies, books, etc.) and keeping them in a bag that is dedicated to your course and ready to go whenever you are.
Make Sure You Are Comfortable With Your Computer and Your Web Browser
This is a very important step to complete prior to the start of a semester. Once a course begins, the majority of your time will be taken by the work in the course. If you also need to learn how to use your computer and need to update, or change computer settings to work with your online course, it may lead to a frustrating situation for you. As soon as your account is created and you are able to log in to the Learning Management System (which typically occurs prior to the course becoming available to you) you should take advantage of the tools which allow you to check your browser for compatibility with the online system used at the college and make adjustments as necessary before the start of the semester.
Purchase Your Textbooks and Any Other Required Materials
Even though your course is online, you most likely will need to also purchase a textbook(s). A listing of the textbooks required for a particular section of a course can be found in the course information section of your course and may be distributed well ahead of the start of classes by the professor. Online courses are often very fast-paced and may require the use of the textbook and/or other materials on the first day of class, so it’s best to be prepared before classes begin.
Locate Campus Services That You Will Be Needing
Your campus website will likely contain a wealth of information for both on-campus and online students. It is important to become acquainted with the services you will be needing on campus such as the Library, Registrar’s office and other Student Services.
Orient Yourself to the Learning Management System
As soon as you are able to log in to the Learning Management System (even if it is prior to you being able to log in to your actual course) you need to take advantage of any student orientation materials that may be available. While your actual course may look a bit different from the orientation, you will still get the look and feel of an online course and be able to practice the skills you will need in your real course.
Familiarize Yourself With the Course Syllabus, Layout and Requirements
As soon as you have access to your online course, the first thing you should do is read and study any course information that the instructor has posted. The course information section typically contains the course syllabus, course assignment schedule and other information regarding the expectations in your section. It is imperative that you read and understand all of these documents prior to accessing the course content material. The last thing that you want to do is to jump into a course without an understanding of what your instructor expects of you. Knowing what is expected of you in your course will help ensure that you have the most positive experience possible.