So I think we can all agree that we live in an increasingly digital era. From Powerschool to Blackboard, to e-textbooks, schooling is much much different from how it used to be.
You can now get a whole degree without ever even stepping one foot onto a college campus. All you need is a laptop (and typically a highschool diploma) and you’ve got hundreds of secondary schooling options at your hands.
And I have a pretty good idea that you’ve taken advantage of one of those opportunities since you’re here and all. So you’ve enrolled, the semester has started, you’ve reviewed the syllabus, and all is peachy until you realize that learning within a virtual environment is much different from a physical one.
Chances are, you may find yourself struggling to stay on track or fully comprehend the material without a live teacher there to guide you on.
But no need to fear; you’ve got thousands of resources, tutors, academic forums, discussion boards, Khan Academy, Pinterest, YouTube, distractions, Instagram, Tiktok, and–wait what?
The internet provides such an abundant source of constant material that you may find yourself facing attention overload. Distractions are not your friend when it comes to any kind of online course.
Which is why I’m going to give you 5 proven methods to learn in absolutely any virtual environment. Hope you’ve gotten out a notebook, ’cause its time to take some notes.
Layout a specific time to focus on your online course(s) daily or bi-daily
This may or may not be a no-brainer, but you’ve got to dedicate time in your schedule to online courses in the same way you have to allocate time to your physical ones.
Just ’cause you don’t have to worry about being marked absent on a roster, doesn’t mean attendance doesn’t matter. A standard e-learning course requires assignments and lessons to be completed according to weekly deadlines.
So you have to be practical. If you’re a full-time student and you want (or need) that course to be done by the end of the semester, then you’ll likely have to dedicate some time to it every single weekday.
Or if that simply doesn’t work, then bi-daily with a higher amount of time slotted for it. I go to my high school’s campus every single day, and I’m given a free period solely dedicated to me getting my online college course done.
Now I could choose to not show up for that period, but being there in a school environment holds me accountable for actually getting the work done.
But… I know that the bliss that accompanies an online college course comes from the fact that you’re able to learn straight from home. So you’re in charge of getting out of bed and getting to work.
By telling yourself an exact time period every day that’s devoted to your schooling, you won’t even be giving yourself a chance to procrastinate. For me, that time is 7:50 am to 8:50 am, but you may need more time depending on the pace and rigor of your course.
Write down deadlines & important dates as you would (or should) with any other course
C’mon my friend, if you don’t have a planner at this point, then what are you even doing? It doesn’t even have to be a traditional paper agenda– I mean, you can literally write down any due date on Google Calendar.
But regardless of how you’re keeping up with deadlines, just make sure you’re keeping up with them.
You don’t ever want to be the student who assumed their schoolwork was due Friday when it was actually due Thursday. That’s just a whole L.
Unlike in-class courses, you’re (most likely) not going to be receiving reminders from your professor. or even classmates, so it’s up to you to plan your time accordingly.
Put your phone out of reach
Don’t ignore this one. I’m guilty multiple times over for not putting my phone out of my sight and then getting lost doing random tasks after picking it up for one notification.
There’s at least a 99.2% chance that whatever your phone is vibrating for can wait. And if there is some otherworldly force that literally makes you pick up your phone whenever the screen so much as turns on, then you better hide and silence it.
We’ve already ascertained that you’re allocating a specific amount of time to this course on some kind of regular basis, meaning that if you waste that scheduled time, then you’ll be throwing your schedule all out of wack.
You’ll either be behind on the schoolwork or behind on whatever you else you had planned to do since you’ll be forced to go overtime on your online course.
Just because the professor isn’t going to call you out for using it, doesn’t mean it won’t be any less damaging to your academic progress.
Open up a new Window
I know, I know, how many times is this girl going to warn about distractions?? Don’t worry– this is the last time.
You don’t want your browser’s layout to literally set you up for disaster. If you’re anything like me, or basically any teacher on this planet, then chances are you’ve got more than a few tabs open on a regular basis.
You’ve got a tab showing your email, some blog article, a podcast, YouTube, a random Google Doc, and give or take 6 or 7 other things. Nothing wrong with being a busy-body (or even somewhat of a hoarder) but you don’t want that plethora of extra tabs to be your downfall.
And fortunately, it doesn’t have to be.
Just minimize all that background mess and open yourself up a whole new tab. Read that in tune with Aladdin’s “Whole New World” and I guarantee you you’ll remember it.
Actually write down your notes
I get that we’re in this amazingly digital era and everything, but research doesn’t lie. Humans are much better at retaining information when that information is physically written down.
I’m talking pencil and paper (and maybe a pen and a few highlighters if you’re about that life.)
Get yourself a nice handy $0.99 notebook solely dedicated to your online course. Much like in the same way you’d have a binder or notebook reserved for your in-class courses.
Handwritten notes force you to slow down and actually attempt to comprehend the material. ‘Cause let’s be real, the typing speed of most students is much too quick to fully grasp whatever it is that you’re writing down.
Plus you won’t be tempted to copy and paste since you won’t even give yourself the possibility to.
So what now?
You ready to conquer that online course like the boss babe I know you are? Heck yeah, you are.
You got a 5-step recipe for success that’s been tried and tested by a virtual schooling lover. Meaning you no longer have to feel forced to stay in the 20th century.
But I’m an avid preacher of learning yourself before learning anything else….. so figure out whether or not you’re learning style will even succeed in a virtual environment.
You may need a live teacher with you that can answer your questions right when you ask them– and that’s totally ok. But if you’re on the edge between the two, then I’ll at least encourage that you do give e-learning a try.
Make sure to watch out for the 5 major traps to avoid as an online student as well!
You just might like the extra time you have to devote to doing other things. Or perhaps you may realize that staying at home during the school day is your one true calling.
I’m proud of you for even taking the initiative to read this article (and to the end, no less!) I need a devoted scholar like you in my savvy community of likeminded students.
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