Online Learning Success

Writer silhouette, copyright Chris LeCraw #000000818351
copyright Chris LeCraw #000000818351

Online classes can be so efficient. You waste no time in travel or trivia, but only if you manage that time! Here are a few tips for success in the online environment:

  1. Post your assignment calendar to keep you up to date, maybe even a little ahead.
  2. Go online every day and do something to advance your learning:
    1. Check your school e-mail and your instructor feedback.
    2. Read your lessons carefully; they’re like going to class. If you skipped class, you’d be lost, right?
    3. Savor every reading assignment, and explore every media resource, even if there’s no official assignment checking up on you. I once had a student announce, “I am ‘In It to Win It!’ I paid all this money and I’m going to be here every minute, do every bit of the work, and learn everything I can!” (May I clone Tiffany?)
    4. Work on your written assignments each day, allowing plenty of time to let your first drafts rest. You’ll gather new ideas and perspectives as you go about your life. Then come back to revise.
  3. Take time to understand your learning style and play to your strengths. Love your brain for what it does best, and it will love you!
    1. If you’re a visual learner, you probably think online learning is the greatest invention ever. To add to the visual experience, you might print out your lessons or use a white board or mind-mapping program to review concepts or brainstorm for your own writing.
    2. If you’re an auditory learner, you’ll need to compensate for not hearing lectures and verbal explanations. You could record yourself reading your lessons, then listen to your own voice while you reread it.
    3. If you’re more hands on/kinesthetic, the white board idea could also work for you, and you might enjoy using post it notes you can move around or creating your own illustrations, whether high art or stick figures.
  4. Set up reminders that suit your learning style. Think like a kid.
    1. Visual: make a paper chain (like a child counting down to a holiday) and label all the links with the lessons and their tasks for the whole course.
    2. Auditory: you could set a timer to announce your scheduled study time, preferably one that plays your favorite psyche up music.
    3. Kinesthetic/hands on: the paper chain might work for you, too. Or you could booby-trap your room to catapult you into your study chair.
  5. Reward yourself!
    1. Visual: no one is too old for gold stars. Watch a movie.
    2. Auditory: play your victory music.
    3. Kinesthetic: dance, exercise, or create something.
  6. Protect your health. Schedule breaks for fun, rest, and relationships. I used to pull all-nighters in college. (Did you know it compromises your immune system for days afterward?) We all write better and more efficiently when we’re rested, nourished, and active.
    1. A great time to write is right after walking or swimming. Your brain will be rich with oxygen and your thoughts will run smoothly. If you ever feel stuck, get up, drink water, stretch thoroughly, walk a few minutes, and try again. Brain Gym® is an amazing modality.
    2. Pace your education your way. There’s no reason to die of stress: the number of classes you take at one time and the speed at which you complete them are choices you make.
    3. Include friends and family in your plans and give them reasons to be excited to support your success. Teach them what you’re learning. (Nothing will help you learn it better!) Enjoy time with them between assignments.
    4. Write every day. True, it will develop your writing voice and strengthen the skills, but the most important thing about keeping a private journal is the way you’ll use that writing to rest, reflect, and restore your perspective.
  7. Remember that your instructor is part of your support team. If life happens, keep in touch. Be aware of your school’s policies so that if you have an emergency, and need more time to complete an assignment, you know where to request a due date extension.
  8. Keep copies of everything! Sometimes technology eats your homework. Sometimes humans make mistakes. So please keep duplicates, and back up your files. A flash drive is wonderful, as long as everything is also stored elsewhere. (Yes, I’m the voice of experience.)
  9. Ask for help whenever you have questions or concerns. Your instructor is your first contact, and can also refer you to additional resources when needed.
  10. Allow the time and freedom to savor learning itself. I am happiest when I’m learning. That’s what I love best about teaching, both learning to support my students better and learning from them. That’s the magic for me.


Text © Gwyn Nichols 2011. All rights reserved.

Photo © Chris LeCraw iStockPhoto #818351

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