As most of you know I’m working on a degree in web design by taking online classes. I’ll graduate with a bachelors degree, and most of my general classes were taken care of when I went to college “in person” nearly 20 years ago.
Whether completing an entire degree through an online program or supplementing on-campus learning with a class or two, almost half of college students take at least one course online. It’s a different experience from a traditional class though, so here’s what you need to know!
1. Get acquainted with the online system you’ll be using. Take some time to learn where the class syllabus is, where to read announcements or instructor notes, where to find a calendar of due dates, how to turn in assignments and where to locate grades. This way you can stay on top of things and not miss anything important.
2. Make sure you have a reliable internet connection and a computer that can handle all the programs and memory you’ll need. For me, I need something that can run all the Adobe programs that I use regularly like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.
3. Write down a weekly schedule and checklist so you can easily see what you’ve already done for the week and what is still left. Click to DOWNLOAD this list.
4. Take advantage of any video lectures by rewinding and listening again if you think you missed something.
5. Reach out to your instructor with any questions, and attend virtual office hours, if available.
6. Meet classmates and create a virtual study group or chat on Google hangouts so you can talk about assignments, ask questions and even learn more yourself by having chances to talk it out.
7. Stay organized on your computer. Create a folder for each semester, and then a folder for each class. Then create a folder for each week as well, especially if you have lots of things to store for each week. For example, in a graphic design class, for just one week, I may have a dozen images I’ve created, scans of 3 pages of sketches, revisions, and a final draft. When I have those saved in a single folder for the week, it’s easy to keep them all together and find the correct assignment to upload at the end of the week.
8. Have a specific study place set up in your house. Keep paper and pens handy, any textbooks you need. But that being said, I love to mix it up sometimes and take my laptop to the library or the park to just get a change of scenery while I’m working on my homework.
9. Get ahead whenever possible. Different universities, or even different classes can be set up differently. Meaning, sometimes you have a whole year to complete a class. Other times, there’s a very set weekly schedule of when things need to be turned in (which is my case). But either way, you can often get even just a couple of days ahead, which is so helpful when something crazy happens in life.
10. Switch between classes to give your brain a reboot and not get burned out. Spending 1 hour each on 3 different classes will get you a lot farther than pounding out 3 hours in one subject. I also like to get up and take a walk around the block to get some oxygen, rest my eyes, and get the blood moving again.
Now I’d love to hear from you! Have you taken any online classes before? What advice would you give to other students taking classes online?