So, if that headline didn’t just put you to sleep, um….yeah. One of the classes I’m trying on for size is a basic English Comp class. Yes, I took that a million years ago when I was a freshman, but that was a million years ago. And even though I have written a lot of words over the years, most of them haven’t been in the form of an actual essay, that had an actual outline and revisions and editing and even proofreading. So, if you are interested in reading my essay, I invite you to do so. For everyone else, here’s a picture of a ridiculous dog, you can skip the rest.
If you have decided to take an online college class, you have probably already thought about how you will succeed. Success will mean something different for everyone and for every class. Achieving success will require a toolbox that includes tools such as a definition of success, an evaluation of your background and learning style and plans for managing your time and for organizing your work.
As you prepare to take your course, you should have a goal in mind. This might be reading, writing, watching, and participating as fully as possible, doing all of the assignments and activities included in the course. Success might also be more casual, consisting of enjoying yourself: picking and choosing the assignments you plan on completing, working through the material for pleasure. Your definition of success might be something in between these two points or something entirely different.
Part of being successful will include knowing the requirements of the course, including the technology needed and your background. If your language skills aren’t up to the task of reading or writing the material, perhaps you need to step back and find remedial classes first. It is also important to consider your learning style. If you learn best by listening to a lecture, then a completely text based course might not be the best choice.
Having picked the right kind of course for your learning style and goals, you will want to make sure you know what kind of support system you will need. Some courses are real time, and professors and teaching assistants are available to answer questions. One feature of most MOOCs is a discussion forum, where you can interact with other learners. If specific help from teachers or other learners isn’t available because the course is self-paced, you could try finding a study group via social media or among friends that could take the class with you. Depending on the time commitment of your class, you may need to make adjustments to your daily routine, and you should make sure family members are supportive of your goals and are willing to give you the time and space to get your work done.
Time and time management are also important parts of your toolbox. If a class is time sensitive, you need to make time in your week to meet deadlines. One of the most crucial parts of being an independent online learner is the ability to be a self-starter, which means setting deadlines and meeting them. Classes that are self-paced will require the most effort on your part to take them seriously and work on the material to completion.
Completing the work is, of course, the goal, and you are going to need to be organized about how you make that happen. Some people will take a trip to the office supply store and stock up on color coded folders and notebooks. In this technology based world, though, you may find yourself looking for technology solutions to keep your notes and work organized. It doesn’t really matter what system you end up using, the point is to find a way to organize your work, keep track of it, and document it for the future.
The most important thing to remember about being successful in the course that you have chosen to take is this: you are in charge. You are the only one that can make the decisions to get the work done with integrity, to make plans and schedules and stick to them, make use of support resources, and follow your course through to it’s completion. Your success might be measured by a grading system or by some intangible sense of accomplishment, and both are valid — but it’s up to you to define and reach your goals.