Earning your degree online may seem scary at first, but interaction with your professor and classmates can carry just as much meaning, and provide even more freedom, than most face-to-face interaction.
Online demands the full attention of the entire class, which means that you’re exposed to a more diverse range of conversation than often exists in a face-to-face environment. Self-motivation is key within such a demanding and competitive setting. The online environment forces you to work independently, increases personal accountability, challenges you to think through arguments in detail before putting them in writing and improves your written communication skills in greater ways than many other environments do. These same skills will have a positive impact on your performance in the work place, because so many of the same are required for success at work.
Teaching also takes new form in an online classroom. Academic institutions, the professors, and support staff must find new and enticing methods to reach out to students in order to optimize their online learning experience and maximize their future scholastic and career opportunities.
As an online student, you have virtually instant access to resources and choices that were not available in the past.
Still, if you’re considering online learning (or just starting), it’s not unusual to feel uncertain about this new environment. Here are a few suggestions to help you succeed:
Keep a Calendar
One of the best pieces of advice I received prior to starting my online program was from a woman in WKU Online. Her kind and well-intended words were simple, “keep a calendar of all upcoming assignments for the semester.” I had no idea how important this was. Online courses are dependent on the student’s ability to hold themselves accountable and stay on schedule. It can be tempting to push assignments to the back burner, but that leads to falling behind, which results in frustration and under performance.
Read the Syllabus
Professors craft their syllabi to deliver the information you need to be successful in their course. The syllabus will include information such as how to contact them, class objectives, the schedule, due dates of tests or assignments, books or readings, and grading data.
Check out Campus Resources
WKU offers a great variety of academic support for online learners, including research and writing assistance, career services, webinars and more! Make sure you visit the Student Resource Portal and become familiar with the support available.
Embrace your Anonymity
This is what I was referring to earlier when I said an online environment can provide “even more freedom.” It allows greater participation than could ever be achieved in a face-to-face classroom, simply because of time constraints involved with F2F learning. Plus, online participation means speaking out, answering questions and providing feedback to others in a new way. Believe it or not, not being seen is empowering.
Ask Questions & Take Cues
Professors differ in how much they direct, interact, and engage the class in forums and discussions. Yet the questions they ask are pertinent to course progression and content. If you don’t understand an assignment, ASK. Asking questions is one of the most important things you can do.
If you’re brand new to online learning and unfamiliar with Blackboard, you may find it helpful to visit our Orientation for Online Learners at www.wku.edu/online/orientation. The Orientation provides guest access to Blackboard and resources to help you get started.