August 2011 Archives

What online instructors would like to say to students (part 2)

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At the Minnesota elearning summit this year, I had the chance to 'read' the minds of several online instructors when they were asked an important question, "What would you like to say to online learners?"

Below is the continuation of the list of comments that instructors would like to say to students (Read part 1 here):

  • Online courses are not easier than traditional courses

This is perhaps one of the most common misconception about online learning. The workload for online and offline classes is usually the same, and can sometimes be even more demanding to make up for the lack of group exercises, discussions and activities typical in a classroom setting. The University of Minnesota online programs are equivalent to the on-campus degree programs, generally with the same instructors, program requirements, and curriculum. As a result, the online courses at UMN are not any easier, and require the same amount of work and dedication as a classroom-based course.

Many students report that online courses require that they be more disciplined, self-motivated and independent in order to complete readings and assignments on time. Students who lack those qualities may in fact find online courses much more difficult than traditional courses.

At the end of the day, whether an online course is easy or hard really depends on many factors such as the individual student's comfort in an online environment, the level of engagement in the course, and the difficulty of the course materials. Students who assume that a course is easier just because it is offered online would definitely be in for a rude awakening.

Sources: Are online courses easier than campus classes?; Are online classes are easier than traditional classes?; FAQ: General questions

  • I might need a few days to respond to your questions

It is not uncommon for many online students to expect an email reply from their instructors minutes after sending out an email, especially if they notice that the instructor is online. This is especially the case when an assignment deadline or test date is near. It is important to recognize that many instructors teach more than one course and often have many emails to reply to. As a result, they may not always have the time to reply to your email minutes after you send it. To ensure that your instructor replies to you on time, do not wait till the last minute to look at the requirements for the assignment or test.

  • Just because a course is online does not mean it has less involvement or less interaction

This is another commonly held misconception about online learning. It is a rare online course at the University that does not require interaction between students, often through discussion boards, group assignments, shared readings, and even small group synchronous chats. The level of interaction will depend on how the course is designed by the instructor. National research shows that students who feel engaged and connected to their classmates and instructor are more likely to succeed in online courses, so the group activities serve an important purpose.

  • Do not be quitters!

As with any course, traditional or online, to be a successful student requires determination, keeping a positive attitude and believing in yourself. If at first you do not succeed, understand what went wrong, make efforts to learn from the mistakes, pick yourself up and then try again. Never be afraid to ask for help if you are having problems understanding the course materials, and knowing your learning style will definitely make learning a lot easier.

Take a survey to help determine your study habits and learning preferences. Also, read here for characteristics of a successful online learner.


Get the complete picture. Read part 1 of this article.

What online instructors would like to say to students (part 1)

0-postitnotes-postitdiecutpads-bulbballoonpostitnote33_sm.jpgAs a student (not too long ago), I remembered thinking that it would be really nice if I could read the minds of my instructors so as to know their expectations, thoughts and strategies about how to become a successful online learner. Oftentimes instructors are good at communicating their expectations to students and are always willing to share resources and strategies to help students improve.

However, as students we tend to have our own preconceived notion of how things are and how they work, and sometimes those notions are wrong. For instance, I often hear people say that online classes are less demanding or that they are less interactive and personal than traditional classes. Those are common misconceptions, and cannot be farther from the truth.

At the Minnesota elearning summit this year, I finally had the chance to 'read' the minds of several online instructors when they were asked an important question, "What would you like to say to online learners?"

Below is a list of comments that instructors would like to say to students:

  • Having good time management is important

Knowing how to effectively use and manage your time is an important factor for success. One of the many benefits of taking an online course is flexibility and convenience - you don't have to drive to campus three times a week at specific times. However, that means the onus is on you to stay on top of the assignments and understand the course materials, which means it is crucial that you manage your time wisely. This time management quiz can help you recognize how you spend your time and strategies you can use to manage your time better.

  • Read first, ask later

Understand that your instructor is very busy and most likely teaching more than one course. While many instructors would gladly answer questions that you may have about the assignments or course requirements, it is always important to read the syllabus thoroughly. It also reflects well on you when you demonstrate initiative and resourcefulness.

The same can be said about assignments and course materials. Asking questions when the answers can be found in the course material is a dead giveaway to instructors that you have not read the required materials. Asking clarifying questions is always encouraged but be sure to demonstrate knowledge of the subject such as referencing examples or key concepts when asking a question. That way, the instructor will know that you have read the materials.

  • Prioritize assignments and do not procrastination

If you wait till the final hour to complete your assignments, chances are the quality of your work will not be very good. With so many assignments, course readings and quizzes to complete, prioritizing them can help you reduce stress and worry. Create a to-do list to help you get organized.

Understand if your procrastination is related to a project, assignment or simply a habit. For example, does your procrastination stem from a feeling of being overwhelmed because you don't feel you understand the material well enough to complete the assignment? The remedy to that is different than if your procrastination is a regular habit. This study guide offers strategies on how to overcome procrastination.

  • Let me know if there is a life changing moment that leads to your absence from the class for a time

Life happens and most online instructors understand that some things in life are really beyond your control. However, if you are not willing to speak up and explain your situation, they will not be able to help you. Many non-verbal cues are absence in an online environment, which makes it difficult for online instructors to know if you are having problems. Instead of dropping the course or not logging in for long periods of time, speak to the instructor.

To continue reading, click here for part 2

Succeed in online learning: 5 essential skills

Planning to take an online course or currently enrolled in an online program? If so, An Introduction to Online Learning, a new website for online learners, is a great resource to have.

Learn and tune up the five essential skills you would need to be successful in an online course or program: Learning styles, computer skills, time management, staying focused and utilizing web tools.

This site is complete with entertaining and informative videos, presentations and podcasts as well as to-do checklists to keep you on task. The journal activities and tutorials will also help you learn the materials more efficiently and successfully.

Learning essential skills to be successful in an online course has never been easier and more fun. Remember to bookmark this website!


About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from August 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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