Online education is an excellent option for those looking to further their education for a variety of reasons. For starters, online degree options tend to be more affordable on average whether you are working on undergraduate coursework or an advanced degree. Moreover, many students feel that the flexibility allowed through online degree programs affords them the ability to continue to work substantial hours a week while they are enrolled in a course.
However, online degree programs shouldn’t be viewed as the “easy way out” so to speak. Rather, such programs can be quite challenging and a new experience entirely for those who are not accustomed to learning more independently.
If you have begun working on an online degree and are coming face to face with some of the challenges that can come along with this academic format, there are some things that you can do that will help you to focus in on your work better and have an overall more productive learning experience.
1. Choose the Right Program
This piece of advice might be a bit after the fact for some people, but it is worth knowing that if you haven’t given much thought to the online program that you have enrolled in, then you might very well not be in the right program for you. Despite some distinct similarities, it is important to know that not all online degree programs are created equal. Essentially, you want to apply the same principles that you would to selecting an in-person university when you are searching for an online degree program.
This is particularly true if you are pursuing a master’s degree or other advanced degrees online. For instance, if you are looking to enrol in a masters in education distance learning program, you will need to take the time to compare a variety of programs. Gather information about the instructors and professors, the type of flexibility that the programs you are considering allows for, and the cost of programs. With the right amount of research, you can find a program that will compliment your pre-existing style of learning so that you can give yourself the best chances of success right from the start.
2. Create the Right Type of Learning Environment
One of the things that can take some getting used to about online or distance learning is the fact that you aren’t actually in a classroom for lectures and classes. Moreover, you don’t necessarily have access to a university library or other designated learning locations when you need to study or work on your coursework. This can be a challenge for people who aren’t accustomed to figuring out a solid study plan for themselves using the space and resources that they have.
The best thing that you can do for yourself before your classes start is to create your own learning environment. This should be a space that you can retreat to whenever you have to participate in classes via livestream or when you need to concentrate on your work. The study space that you make should be free of distractions like friends, family, and television. It should also have comfortable seating and enough workspace for the type of work you will be doing.
Lastly, don’t underestimate the significance of lighting. If the space that you are working in is too dim and dark, it can cause undue stress on your eyes during those long hours of work. Find the right balance of lighting so that you can work comfortably even into the night.
3. Learn How to Communicate Differently
When you are working on an online degree, it is likely that you will never actually meet your professors and instructors in person. This can make it difficult for some people to feel comfortable asking for help. Even if you have seen and spoken to your instructor via webchat, there is an undeniable fact that you are bound to feel less capable of connecting with teachers through an online learning format.
The fact of the matter is, though, that your teachers are still there to help answer any questions that you might have. You will need to adjust to the concept of communicating through emails and webchats, but it is never a good idea to neglect to ask for help when you need it.
Work on your written communication skills so that you can be able to inquire about things that confuse you via email. Moreover, don’t be afraid to ask for one-on-one help through webchats. That is what your teacher is there for, after all.