Here are some useful tips to make sure online students get started on the right step and get the most out of a course.
*Get organized. Just because the course is not face to face doesn’t mean you don’t need a notebook and binder. Print out the syllabus and all the weekly agendas ahead in the beginning and start a course “paper” file. Also, start a “digital” file on your desktop for all your course files. Make a list of all your links and passwords that you will need.
*Being an online student requires self-discipline and strong time management skills. I suggest that you set up a weekly rhythm for yourself. Put aside a couple set days and chunks of time throughout the week that you will commit to working on the course. Then, along with key dates from the syllabus, put it on your calendar and make it a weekly routine. You cannot expect do all of the week’s reading, posting, replying, and project work at the end of the week; you must spread it out throughout the week.
*Draft it. It is a good idea to start a digital file like “class log” and draft all your discussion responses in Google Docs, Microsoft Word or OneNote before posting, as this can save time and the frustration of a browser crashing. This is also helpful because you can catch spelling and grammatical errors more easily. In addition you have a backed up copy of all your work that you can refer to later.
*Back it up. Use must have a back-up plan for your computer and internet access such as knowing when your public library or local coffee shop is open so that you can use their systems or free wireless. Backing up your files frequently on a jump drive or uploading them online should be a regular habit. Personally, I swear by Dropbox.