Ten tips for university e-learning

Online higher education means a lot of things. It’s flexible, convenient, students can study on their own time, schedules, without compromising their work and professional lives. In addition to these it is effective, accommodates virtually any learning style (Skype, video, podcasts and other multi-media materials to supplement more traditional, text-based learning.) e-learning is also more relational than you might expect. Students in the online environment have great one-on-one interaction with their professors and interact with fellow students (adults with a wealth of professional and life experience to share) in forums and message boards.
But e-learning is not, an easy path to a degree and it should be taken seriously. The curriculum at the best online institutions is robust, students often use the same textbooks found at prestigious brick-and-mortar institutions. There is a significant amount of reading, writing and tests to be passed. It requires self-discipline, motivation and self-awareness to recognize when you are struggling with a concept to choose. This is why you need to be proactive about seeking help from your professor or an advisor, who will be eager to answer all your questions and provide all the support you need. Online higher education is a great option for a wide variety of students.

It is challenging but gives current and prospective online students the best chance for success. Surveyed deans, professors and academic advisors from California Southern University, an accredited university based in Irvine, California, offer 100% online degree programs in psychology, business and law were asked about their tips and advice for successful strategies. Below are the brief suggestions that refer to any e-learning university you choose:

1. Present yourself Tell your professor about your academic and career goals, your work experience and your interests. This will help him or she personalizes the feedback you will receive on your assignments so that it is most helpful and relevant to objectives.

2. Time and place Most students do better when they set their study schedule. But if you find yourself exhausted from a tough working week or family obligations that you simply can not focus on the material, give yourself a break and re-schedule your study session. However, do not let that extra day off, turn into a week or two! Try to schedule your study time when you learn best and pick a quiet location with good lighting and airflow and minimal opportunity for distraction.

3. Learn ahead Work an assignment or two ahead, so that you are ready when/if something comes up or you miss a couple of planned study sessions, you will not fall behind. If you stay ahead, you will have additional time for the more involved assignments toward the end of the course. If you can not work ahead, do your best to begin week’s assignment in the beginning of the week, by not leave everything for the end of the weekend, if an assignment is due on Sunday evening.

4. Support from home Talk to your family, friends and other support groups and let them know when you plan to study, explaining how important it is that you have quiet, uninterrupted time at your home. If needed make the necessary adjustments regarding household responsibilities, and stick to your schedule.

5. A right time to learn Not many people can study effectively for five to eight hours at a time. If you study in shorter sessions, you will be fresher, will remain closed to the material (if you leave it alone for a number of days, you might find you need to spend time reviewing material, to get back up to speed) and if you miss a study session, you will not fall too far behind.

6. Style of e-learning At many online institutions, you will be asked to follow APA – American Psychological Association style for most of your formal writing assignments. Get familiarized with the APA structure and citation before your first course, it will save you time and will be more productive.

7. The flash – USB stick Buy a flash drive with a decent amount of memory, where you can store your coursework and carry it with you. In this manner, you can work on your assignments wherever convenient, wherever inspiration and opportunity strike.

8. Library The best online institutions available are the state-of-the-art online libraries. There you can find helpful tools and resources. If you are struggling with APA style, need to research or need supplemental material to help you better understand a difficult or complex topic, reach out to your librarian. Your professors and advisors can assist, too.

9. Focus on learning, not grades The ultimate goal is to master the material, so take your time. Do not move on to the next assignment until you are comfortable with the current one. Think about your professors’ feedback and incorporate it into your assignment. Make learning the focus of your interest and the grades will follow.

10. Coursework in your life The concepts you’re learning should be incorporated into your daily life. You can apply what you learn to solve a challenge at work, to better understand your employer’s operations, or improve the understanding how your coursework relates to a trend in your field or to an item in the news. In this manner, you will keep close to your coursework by making the material more relevant and more interesting.

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