As 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