How to Manage an Online Class
Starting school in a new environment is always a challenge. Most students attend school in the traditional way of physically going to a location, sitting in a classroom, and being taught by the instructor. With the advancements in technology the way people attend school is rapidly changing. Online programs are growing in popularity and many students prefer the format over traditional attendance. The following will provide a few tips on organizing information to manage an online degree program.
Get Organized to Succeed
Regular classes provide structure with regular class attendance, written assignments, and deadlines. An online program remains flexible while offering many of the same opportunities to have a structured program. At the start of an online program at the University of Phoenix, each student is provided a Course Syllabus, Instructor Policies, and often a Course Calendar. Review of this material will provide a basic outline of expected assignments and time commitments.
Step 1: Build a folder on your computer for each course you are taking. Name the folder either by course name such as “Organizational Design” or by the Course number HRM/530. This will allow you to return to the course material as needed in future courses.
Step 2: In the folder build 7 additional folders for a 6 week course. Label each folder as Week 1, Week 2, Week 3… The seventh folder will be for your “Class Materials” such as your syllabus, rubric, e-books, etc.
NOTE: Working from a new folder each week will help you keep track of what is due, where you are saving your current project, and the chapters from the e-books as well as any other electronic articles you may download from your research.
Step 3: As you begin taking your online course use the folder you have created to store your information and assignments. Typically online programs focus on writing papers, reading, and research. Depending on the program you may also be required to take online exams. The folders will keep your information organized for easy access while studying or writing.
Step 4: Keep your folders for future reference. Throughout your degree program you may need to reference a paper you previously wrote, or you can access e-books and other information easily if it is stored in an organized way.
Schedule in School Daily
Step 5: Create a personal schedule for when you will look at the class forum, complete discussion questions (DQs), and work on weekly assignments. In an online program students are more independent and therefore need to have self-discipline to succeed. Take a few minutes each morning before work to view the classroom forum. Get an idea of how much time you will need and then plan ahead to schedule time during your lunch break or after work to accomplish the assignments.
NOTE: Keeping track of reoccurring events such as DQs and weekly assignments on a calendar populated with the information can help students to complete task on time. Each week students can view the calendar and know they have a DQ due Wednesday and Friday and the main assignment is due on Monday.
Step 6: Stay involved with the class. “Out of sight, out of mind” can easily happen if daily life interferes with online school attendance. Work to check the classroom forum daily and no less than four times a week to stay involved with the class.
Step 7: Accomplish the small things. Many of the points are awarded for small assignments such as completion of the DQs, classroom discussion, or small assignments due weekly. Don’t let something slide just because it is only worth one or two points. Just like with money, those small points add up and can make the difference from a B+ to an A. You will be kicking yourself at the end of the course if you miss the desired grade by one point.
Be Responsible and Ask Questions
Step 8: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Although much of the learning in the online program is self initiated through reading of course materials and research, the instructor is there to guide you and to answer questions you may have. Use the forum to ask questions, but remember it is your responsibility to read the course material such as e-books and articles to gain a better understanding of the topics.
Step 9: Work harder when a team is relying on you to do your part. Nothing is worse than having a team member who doesn’t communicate well, turns in assignments late, or doesn’t hold up their end of the deal. Other students take note of this and it may hurt you later on in your career.
Step 10: Set goals and stay committed. It is easier to fall out of touch with classmates and staying in school is more difficult when a student is completing an online degree program. Talk to others about what you are doing so they can help support you and understand why you are not spending time socializing as often. Staying committed to your career and education goals will help you to succeed in an online degree program.
Starting a degree program is a daunting task. It takes time and commitment to succeed and achieve a diploma. Set your goals before you begin school and discipline yourself to complete each task. Get organized, stay in touch, and stay focused to manage your online program. Doing so will create a standard for performance leading to success.
Do you have any suggestions for completing or managing an online degree program? What was the biggest problem or challenged you faced during our program? Feel free to share your thoughts on online degree programs with our readers.