To become an excellent online student requires many of the basic study and learning skills of traditional learning. However, there are also some things specific to online learning. Following are some Dos and Do Nots to help you on the road to become an excellent online student.
1. Do read expectations and directions carefully.
In online learning there will be many things posted for you to read. This will include information from your school about school policy, information that is part of the course for every student and things that are posted specifically by your instructor. It can be overwhelming. However, you are responsible for knowing everything that is posted in your classroom. Thus, it is important that you are very careful to thoroughly read the material presented to you, including grading guidelines and assignment directions. Use these guidelines and directions as a checklist to ensure that you do not miss anything in your work. Also, for main course guidelines, such as your instructors late policy, reread them a couple weeks into class. They may make more sense to you once you are into the class a bit.
2. Do try to get ahead on your reading.
Most online courses require you to post your own response to a question by your professor. Then, you will comment to your classmates, asking them questions or relating your own experience to their postings. In addition, you may have a paper or quiz due at the end of the week. A great way to schedule yourself is to get ahead. Spend the weekend before your unit starts reading the text book and other assignments. Then, spend the week completing your discussions and assignments. Then the next weekend replying to your classmates and reading your work for the next week.
3. Do be respectful.
Be very respectful in all of your postings, to teachers and classmates. Never post in anger. Give people the benefit of the doubt; if a message written to you seems like it could be laced with sarcasm, resist the urge to become defensive. Assume the message was meant with a positive tone and respond in a positive way. If someone else disrespects you, do not fight back. Ignore it, or tell the teacher if you feel it is extremely inappropriate.
4. Do temper negative with positive.
Likely, part your effort to become an excellent online student will require providing feedback to your classmates on their work, reviewing each others paper or responding to their conversations. When you do so, do not feel that you have to be entirely positive; people learn more through constructive criticism, so if you disagree or see an error, you should point it out. However, always temper constructive criticism with something positive. For example, you might write, You did a great job summarizing this chapter, and your insights on Smiths position was insightful. However, I have to disagree with your position on Johnson. I think he meant this and that. Does that make sense to you at all or am I missing something?
5. Do build relationships.
With online degrees life experience can really help make discussions interesting. Remember that you are in class with other accomplished working adults. As you strive to become an excellent online student, also try to network. Use this time to build relationships with other people in your field. You may be surprised at how someone can give you a lead on a good job, serve as a reference or just give you really good advice.
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